On Tuesday, Employment Minister Priti Patel spoke to a group of leading female business and political figures at the launch of a new campaign group led by 40 women who believe that the power of their vote is undermined by Britain’s membership to the European Union. The group will be reaching out to female voters across the country and providing the positive case for a leave vote in the upcoming referendum, reacting to calls that women are underrepresented in the debate.
Polling released in December (British Future) found that, when asked about voting intentions in the EU referendum, women: are almost twice as likely (20-25%) as men (10-15%) to answer ‘Don’t Know’ about which way they would vote; are less likely (29%) than men (43%) to say they are certain to vote in the referendum, regardless of ‘remain’ or ‘leave’ stance; and are quite possibly more Eurosceptic than men, yet more difficult to persuade to vote for Leave.
Women for Britain are determined to put the positive case forward for ‘leave’ so that women, often perceived as more ‘risk-averse’ than men, identify a vote to leave as the safer choice. A vote to remain is a vote to keep on giving more money to the EU and to agree to the supremacy of EU law forever.
Women for Britain will also be campaigning on the issue of the tampon tax and sexist EU insurance regulations. The Minister of State for Employment was joined at the launch by Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Suzanne Evans, Emma Pullen, CEO of The British Hovercraft Company, along with other MPs, entrepreneurs, business owners, councillors and influential women from all over the country.
Priti Patel MP, Employment Minister said: “During the debates on the referendum, I have been struck by the number of claims made about the EU and how it protects women’s rights.
“But we don’t need the European Union to protect the rights of women in the UK and it is wrong and misleading to suggest that leaving the EU would put women’s rights at risk.
“Since we won our right to vote, the UK has a proud history of listening to women. The First Equal Pay Act, the Abortion Act and the Divorce Reform Act were passed and the contraceptive pill was made free on the NHS before we joined the EU.
“We also passed the Sex Discrimination Act, the Domestic Violence Act and the Employment Protection Act – all without any EU assistance at all.
“Britain has been a world leader at promoting women’s rights at home and abroad and our support for women would only be enhanced by leaving the EU.’
“Female politicians from across the political spectrum have introduced legislation and championed causes that have benefited our country...
“As a Suffragette, Pankhurst fought for the rights of women to have a vote, a voice and a say in how their society is governed and who governs it.
“In many ways, Women for Britain are fighting for the same cause.
“ The suffragettes fought for our democratic freedom.
“Now we are the ones who must fight to protect it...
“Our campaign to take back control from the EU will enhance our democracy and empower women in this country.”The Women for Britain board includes two women of Asian origin: Mimi Harker, Chairman, Chiltern District Council and harsimrat Kaur, a mathematician.
The Guardian reported, the great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst has criticised Minister Priti Patel for claiming the suffragettes were fighting for the same cause as those who want Britain to leave the EU. Helen Pankhurst said it was “unacceptable” to use her ancestor’s achievements to promote Brexit, after Patel, claimed the suffragettes and leave campaigners were fighters for democratic freedom.