The Women’s Equality Party notes not only that the Brexit debate lacked women’s voices but also that the post-referendum debate and decisionmaking has failed to address the potential impact of Britain’s exit from the European Union on the lives of women across the economic spectrum. The stagnation or diminishing of EU-derived social rights and the increase of xenophobia is likely to hit women the hardest, particularly BAME women and disabled women.
The government’s actions have created an environment of unprecedented political uncertainty. The deliberate absence of responsible planning has left over 3 million EU migrants who live in the UK – along with their families, communities, employees and employers – in complete uncertainty, as well as the 1.2 million British-born people living in other EU countries. In addition, Theresa May has opted to add fuel to the fire by justifying the xenophobia her own party members and ministers ignited during the Brexit debate.
While the true economic consequences are still being debated, there are early indications that Brexit may significantly harm the UK economy in the long run. Leading business owners, academics, organisations and social campaigners have flagged major concerns of a “hard” rupture from Europe. The impact of Brexit on higher education in the UK, and on UK students pursuing education in EU countries, is also still to be fully evaluated.
The combination of a decline in the economy, less human rights protection and a decrease in educational opportunities and job opportunities will hit lives across the spectrum but is likely to affect women and minority women the hardest. The Women’s Equality Party calls upon the government to step up to its responsibility and deliver a Brexit process that:
1. does not sacrifice the rights of women and of vulnerable groups in our society;
2. commits to internationalism and strong continuing relationship with the European Union;
3. maintains full membership of the Council of Europe and fulfils all its obligations to the European Convention of Human Rights, to continue protecting and improving human rights in all 47 member states of the CoE;
4. protects the rights of EU migrants already living in the United Kingdom;
5. works with Europe to respond to the refugee crisis;
6. fully tackles the increasing xenophobia and racism that has stemmed from the divisive Brexit debate;
7. commits to uniting rather than dividing by listening to and addressing the concerns of those who voted to remain and those who voted to leave;
8. ensures that new trade deals do not bypass human rights and gender equality and are made for the best economic and social good of the whole country, not based on narrowly held political positions;
9. protects the opportunities for all to access a good-quality higher education; and
10. does not damage the peace process in Ireland or re-establish closed borders between North-Ireland and the Republic of Ireland