Women aren’t buying Brexit for a very simple reason : they understand Brexit in ways that men don’t.
Blokes’ Brexit is a dog’s dinner of bullying bombast, demonic deceit, delusions, demagoguery and devious perversions of democracy. It is nasty, brutish and short. Short on understanding. Nasty in its triteness. Brutish in its repugnant pretence that black means white and all shades of grey have meaning only in terms of how they present them.
For women, Brexit is tangible, in your face and confronted daily. Dip into a shopping trolley and it’s there: the fall in sterling’s value as it is betted on affects what food women buy. 40% of vegetables and 37% of fruit come from the EU. Smaller packaging and sugar taxes can’t hide that or the fact that 18% struggle to feed their families. 90% of single parents are women, often part-time workers about to lose EU employment protection. Women know that trade with the EU makes green mile sense while trade with states thousands of miles away equals environmental damage and higher costs.
Brexit is full-on shame when they see health workers, their families, friends and children being torn apart by a spiteful disregard for being part of a mixed-nationality family or community, taking for granted the joys of travelling, living, working, loving and playing in a borderless Europe. The neglect of Northern Ireland and the peace the EU helped and cement is mind-blowing in its idiocy.
Women understand all too well that sneakily dumping the Charter of Fundamental Rights, along with maternity and paternity rights, social, welfare and employment protection, steals our legal right to tolerance, mutual respect for diversity, non-discrimination, rights of children, decency and democracy.
Women aren’t buying Brexit because they know Brexit is bloody and bonkers. The 2017 White Paper mentioned ‘trade’ five times and ‘women’ and ‘equality’ not once. Ignoring women doesn’t mean they will shut up about bearing the brunt of Brexit.
Women ask why waste tax on stockpiling essentials from insulin and isotopes to toilet paper and drinking water when stockpiling is a political choice? One that was never on any ballot paper, and easily averted. Women aren’t stupid. Nor callous enough to have come up with a Brexit like this one. 90% of Brexit speeches on the Withdrawal Bill was grabbed by men. 62% of senior ‘Brexit’ civil servants are men, and the rest relatively inexperienced and prone to quitting asap to move to another department. Only one senior woman was in the team sent to Brussels.
Who thinks it’ll be okay for their kids to face shrinking worlds and fewer opportunities while their EU peers enjoy unfettered opportunities in the EU27 to learn, work, explore, innovate and create and generally have a better quality of life than that Brexit assigns to all stuck on tiny Britain? Women revolt at the vile and immoral reality of ending freedom of movement: they hear bigoted spite at school gates. They see the daily distress of children and families being ripped apart. They are ashamed of the parochial glee with which the Government massages so-called migration figures: EU workers are not ‘migrants’. They are EU citizens, just like Brits are EU citizens – all being displaced by other people from third (non-EU) countries. Women are not in thrall to xenophobia and seeing people just as units of labour.
Women experience Brexit in ways alien to the preening puerility of far too many Ministers and their chums. They experience the weasel words of ‘security of trade and employment’ as an odds-on certainty of being ever poorer.
For women a promise of a ‘better future, a Brexit dividend in 10, 20 or 50 years time’, personifies buffoonery and ageism: British (and especially women’s) pensions are among the very lowest in the EU – 29% of earnings compared to over 50% in most comparable EU27 states.
Women are not ‘just’ the foot soldiers of street stalls and handmaidens of domestic drudgery. Brexit’s pernicious petty belittling of women’s voices has denied Brexit of reason.
Scorning women and pretending that Brexit serves democracy doesn’t make women accept protestations that another man could get a better deal. Women aren’t interested. They want what they have in the EU. They want to stay.
Prof Juliet Lodge – Women for Europe