Influential British politician says Brexit might impede fight for women’s rights

Harriet Harman (REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett - RTX1DFMF)

Harriet Harman, an influential MP from Britain’s Labour Party, has sparked a controversy by claiming that those who favor Britain leaving the EU are more likely to believe that women belong in the home, and argued that a so-called “Brexit” could also be an obstacle in the fight for women’s rights. Harman, who has been campaigning for gender equality for four decades, said that the EU had been “a strong friend to women in this country” and had been essential in pushing through reforms such as equal pay and maternity rights, while facing opposition in Britain. “When we put forward these demands they said that they were women whinging, that it was a burden on business, that women wanted special treatment,” Harman told The Guardian in an interview, before addressing that same issue in a speech later Friday. “Time off to go to an antenatal appointment was treated as if women were going off to get their nails done. We were totally opposed, totally patronized, totally condescended and actually vilified, really.” She also added that she did not trust high-profile pro-Brexit campaigners, such as former London mayor Boris Johnson, Michael Gove or Nigel Farage, on these issues. “We still see occasionally the veil slips,” she said. “And actually there is quite a good match between the people who want to leave the EU and the people who actually want women to be back in the home. Why would we want them to be in charge of our rights? Why would we trust our rights to them?” Suzanne Evans, a pro-Brexit campaigner strongly criticized Harman for “playing the man and not the ball,” and said it was “utterly laughable” to suggest that “we need a bunch of former communist men in the EU commission to fight for women’s rights.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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