Einmal Outfit in Blau, bitte!
Seit dem EU Referendum in Grossbritannien im Juni 2016 ist das Leben eine ganz schöne Achterbahnfahrt. Dass sie mich aber einmal ins Britische Parlament bringen würde, um dort eine Rede zu halten – damit habe ich nicht gerechnet. Aber so war es nun, denn für ungewohnte Wendung ist der Brexit immer gut. Aber es blieb die Frage: was trägt man denn eigentlich dazu?
Blau, natürlich! Es geht ja schliesslich um die EU. Und dafür macht sich dieses schlichte aber raffinierte Sommerkleid von COS genau richtig. Dazu eine Kette von Oliver Bonas und das Outfit hat sogleich auch das farblich passende Accessoire – und im richtigen Blauton. Abgerundet mit Netzstrumpfhose und Ballerinas von Tory Burch bleibt mein Outfit zurückhaltend und klassisch …
… mit kleinem Rebellen-Statement
Aber natürlich konnte ich mir ein kleines Rebellen-Statement nicht verkneifen. Schliesslich ist der Brexit einfach der letzte Dreck, der das Leben von fast 5 Millionen Menschen direkt und negativ beeinflusst. Für mein kleines Rebellen-Statement ist ein rebel nail selbstverständlich perfekt. Als Nagellack habe ich bewusst einen dunklen Pinkton ausgewählt, denn das ist mittlerweile die weltweite Farbe das Widerstands von Frauen. Resister Sisters!
Dies war besonders passend, denn genau um Frauen ging es nämlich: wie der Brexit die Frauenrechte aushölen und das Leben von Frauen negativ verändern, wie er Frauen schlimmer betreffen, wird. Und um dagegen anzukämpfen waren wir im Parlament. Es war mir ein Privileg, neben so vielen anderen grossartigen Rednerinnen, unter anderem Gina Miller, Eloise Todd, Jessica Simor QC und Nina Parker, im Parlament zu sprechen.
Und wie geht nun so eine Rede?
Rights at Risk: The Preservation of Equality
First of all thank you very much to Rupa Huq MP and Nina Parker for the hospitality here and the organisation of this meeting. It is my great privilege to speak to you here today together with such brilliant women.
It is my privilege, first, as a historian: I recognize the historical significance of this place – Parliament as the home of British democracy. The home of debate. The home of great Europeans. And of course the home of great women who have, for a long time, spoken in these chambers for equality when rights were at risk, or fought to secure these rights in the first place.
So, therefore, secondly, it is of course my privilege to speak expressly as a woman today.
And finally it is, I think, my greatest privilege to speak here as an EU citizen whose home is the UK — especially after recent events in the wake of which I was told, yet again, that I do not belong here; was told that I should ‘go home’ when this is my home; that I should be forbidden to speak on British streets because I am a ‘foreigner’, and that Brexit is none of my business.
But of course I, together with 3.7 million EU citizens in the UK, and our British friends who live in EU countries, are those most immediately affected by the EU referendum — a referendum in which EU citizens, and many Britons — had no say. Nearly 5 millions lives; 5 million futures on hold and involuntarily parked in the lay-by, with all of us stuck on the back seat without access to the steering wheel of our own lives.
717 days today … and counting, our rights threatened because people were not put before politics.
That is a much wider concern, of course, when we look at the impact of Brexit. From job losses to growing problems for the NHS: Brexit is personal and for women it will be prove to be especially so.
That is because women will be more severely affected by Brexit.
The most fundamental issue is of course the question of women’s rights currently protected by EU frameworks. Given this government’s demonstrably poor record of protecting rights, I have no confidence in assurances given. In any case, women have no real voice in the negotiations, and women’s rights have not been a concern so far. We are faced with watching the clock turn back on gender equality.
Rights are at risk because in the quest to reach new post-Brexit trade deals, rights and protections are likely to be sacrificed for deregulation and a flexible labour market.
That is one reason why Brexit is the greatest threat to women’s rights since the Second World War. Some tell me this is an overstatement. It is not. Those who have pushed hardest for Brexit, those who push for it to this day, do not care about women’s rights. As Nigel Farage once happily tweeted: ‘The European Parliament, in their foolishness, have voted for increased maternity pay. I’m off for a drink.’
But the potential loss of rights is not the only issue. Women tend to work in sectors that are more likely to be negatively affected by Brexit, for example the textiles sector — new trade barriers could prove catastrophic here. Women also rely more on public services where the impact of Brexit will be felt strongly.
For female EU citizens there are immediate specific concerns that have already had very negative consequences. We will soon be forced to apply for settled status to secure our future in our own home — despite the fact that we are all here legally now; despite the fact that Vote Leave promised that nothing would change. Settled status is taking rights away from us: no matter how often the government says otherwise, as it stand we will not be able to live our lives as we do now.
Moreover, settled status is not a unilateral rights guarantee, but an application process — and applications can be rejected. Those without what is deemed the right documentary trail, those with gaps in records, could fall through the cracks. Women are more likely to be in that group. What if records are only in the name of the husband? What if one looked after the family and did not work all the time?
Comprehensive Sickness Insurance — CSI — is a major concerns. A requirement retroactively applied, for permanent residence applications its negative impact is already clear and, undoubtedly, a result of the hostile environment strategy.
Just the other day I read a tweet that was telling the story of a French EU citizen. She has lived in the UK for 17 years. She is married to a British man. And she is caring for her severely disabled British daughter. Yet the Home Office rejected her PR application.
Or think of the story of the young EU citizen from Romania. A Sussex and Cambridge graduate, now a PhD student. Her PR application too was rejected.
I could tell you thousands of these kinds of stories.
What they all prove is that the hostile environment already extends to EU citizens, and that women are already bearing the brunt of it.
But, on the whole, we still have no voice. So we need you, British friends, to help us get platforms for our own voices.
Of course: we generally need more female voices in this debate, one that is still largely driven by those who either shout the loudest, or come up with the most outrageous new idea. Reality and facts — they are few and far between.
That is why I hope that more women will join me in speaking out against Brexit. Because this, if you allow me a popular fiction detour — is not a Harry Potter novel — we cannot afford to speak only of He Who Must Not Be Named to mask reality, to pretend things don’t exist.
We need to speak about the reality of Brexit upfront.
As it stands it is a reality where Brexit means a future that relies on chlorinated chicken and holding hands with a man who wants to grab women by the pussy.
A reality where Brexit means a future with fewer rights.
A reality where Brexit means a future in which British democracy is under threat.
This Brexit future? It simply is not good enough. Not for women. Not for men. Not for anyone.
Brexit is an unnecessary act of self-harm. But it is one that we can still stop. Together.
So I hope that MPs will think of all this as they debate here in Parliament tomorrow. For tomorrow, and the next few weeks, will prove to be the UK’s moment of truth: a moment of truth about what future the country wants.
I know it is hard, trust me: I do. But, as Millicent Garrett Fawcett once said: ‘courage calls to courage everywhere’.
So I ask MPs to have that courage. I ask everyone to have that courage.
For women. For men. For all of us.
For a future where our rights are not at risk and where we preserve equality.
For a future built on hope not hate.
With much thanks to Nina Parker from OFOC, a group of young Britons standing up to Brexit.