September 25, 2019 1:30 PM

47 MPs call on Government to release plans to replace EU protections for women's rights

Nearly 50 opposition MPs have called on the Government to release plans to keep vital laws and regulations that protect women’s rights in place after Brexit.

The cross-party group of 47 MPs signed the letter from campaign group Best for Britain, following the release of Best for Britain’s report titled 'Brexit: A Threat to Women’s Rights'.

Those to sign the letter include Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson, Labour MP Jess Phillips, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and former Conservative MP Antoinette Sandbach.

The letter states, “The EU has made huge progress over the past 45 years in protecting rights both for women now and in the future. The government has a duty to ensure we do not turn back the clock on this critical issue. We call on the government to lay out its plans to keep these vital laws and regulations in place.”

Best for Britain’s report reveals how Brexit will have a profound effect on the rights and wellbeing of women with many employment rights, maternity rights, trafficking laws and measures to combat violence against women and girls derived from EU treaties and directives.

Among the findings highlighted, the report outlines how UK laws to combat human trafficking are underpinned by the EU Trafficking Directive, which provides far more thorough protections than those in UK law, and may not be upheld by the UK Government after Brexit. This will endanger victims’ rights and claims for support and assistance and put women and migrants at risk of modern slavery.

The report concludes: “Any form of Brexit risks precious, hard-won legal safeguards that protect women and minorities from discrimination and harm. 80% of women aged 18-24 voted remain; there is no mandate for this.”

Best for Britain chief executive Naomi Smith said:

“Analysis of the British Election Study and Ipsos Mori estimates reveal that young women massively voted remain in 2016 and that economically independent women are more likely to back remain. Yet we now see our future at significant risk because of Brexit.

“We are at a profound moment in UK history, and the fight to protect women and minority rights is real. We cannot let a group of mostly male Brexiters strip back women’s hard-fought rights. For all our sakes, we must stop this impending crisis and stay in the EU.”

Schona Jolly QC, Barrister and Chair of The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales said:

“Many of those rights that we enjoy today are in very substantial measure the product of our membership of the European Union, underpinned and developed over 40 years through laws passed and case law developed with British input.

“Once we leave the EU, any of those rights that originate with our EU membership, for example working time protections and the right to equal pay for work of equal value, are subject to potential removal or restriction by a future government so inclined."


FULL OPEN LETTER AND LIST OF SIGNATORIES

Brexit will have a profound effect on the rights and wellbeing of women.

The principle of equality between men and women is enshrined in EU law; many employment rights, maternity rights, trafficking laws and measures to combat violence against women and girls are derived from EU treaties and directives.

These protections do not only fight current levels of discrimination against women; they also provide a structural basis for eliminating it from our society.

However, as illustrated in a report published this week by campaign group Best for Britain, Brexit will put these protections at risk and will mean that future EU equality and human rights protections are not binding in UK law.

Through the removal of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and no British replacement lined up to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, Brexit will remove existing avenues of protection and leave women in the UK more vulnerable to abuse.

We are at a profound moment in UK history, and the fight to protect the rights of women is real.

The EU has made huge progress over the past 45 years in protecting rights both for women now and in the future. The government has a duty to ensure we do not turn back the clock on this critical issue.

We call on the government to lay out its plans to keep these vital laws and regulations in place.

Signed by:

Heidi Allen, Independent
Guto Bebb, Independent
Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat
Richard Burden, Labour
Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat
Ann Coffey, The Independent Group for Change
Neil Coyle, Labour
Angela Crawley, SNP Women and Equalities Spokesperson
Nic Dakin, Labour
Geraint Davies, Labour
David Drew, Labour
Rosie Duffield, Labour
Jonathan Edwards, Plaid Cymru
Paul Farrelly, Labour
Gill Furniss, Labour
Preet Kaur Gill, Labour
Helen Hayes, Labour
Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat
Margaret Hodge, Labour
Christine Jardine, Liberal Democrat
Peter Kyle, Labour
Ben Lake, Plaid Cymru
David Lammy, Labour
Caroline Lucas, Green
Gordon Marsden, Labour
Kerry McCarthy, Labour
Anna McMorrin, Labour
Madeleine Moon, Labour
Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat
Ian Murray, Labour
Jess Phillips, Labour
Antoinette Sandbach, Independent
Liz Saville-Roberts, Plaid Cymru
Virendra Sharma, Labour
Gavin Shuker, Independent
Tulip Siddiq, Labour
Andy Slaughter, Labour
Angela Smith, Liberal Democrat
Jeff Smith, Labour
Owen Smith, Labour
Jo Stevens, Labour
Jo Swinson, Liberal Democrat
Chuka Umunna, Liberal Democrat
Catherine West, Labour
Martin Whitfield, Labour
Hywel Williams, Plaid Cymru
Daniel Zeichner, Labour

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