Priti Patel Made Brexit Case and Receives Major Backlash
Conservative MP Priti Patel arrives for a reception to celebrate the wedding between media mogul Rupert Murdoch and former supermodel Jerry Hall which took place on Friday, in London, Britain March 5, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall

Priti Patel Made Brexit Case and Receives Major Backlash

Priti Patel equated women campaigning for Brexit to suffragettes, but was quickly condemned by the great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst.

Helen Pankhurst said her great-grandmother’s campaign would have supported the EU’s campaign for women’s rights. Ms Patel addressed an audience of 40 leading female business leaders and politicians in central London on March 9 to discuss her Brexit campaign. Throughout her speech, Patel claimed that women campaigning to exclude Britain from the EU were fighting for the same cause as the suffragettes.

Directly quoting Emmeline Pankhurst, Ms Patel said that, “as a suffragette, she {Pankhurst} and so many others 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. ” Patel recognized similarities between the two campaigns, saying that ‘the suffragettes fought for our democratic freedom’ and that women motioning to debar Britain from the UN were dong the “same thing.”

Helen Pankhurst countered the notions stated by Patel, saying that her “great-grandmother fought tirelessly for womens’ rights and dedicated her life to making sure women could live their lives free from discrimination.” She said that is was “unacceptable to use her achievements to argue for something that is so out of line with the spirit of international solidarity that defined the suffragette movement.” Pankhurst asserts that her grandmother woud willingly back the progress that the EU has made for women, saying that the “equal pay and anti discrimination laws” have vastly improved the daily lives of women.

Mrs Patel concluded her speech by listing the achievements made by the UK, suggest that leaving the EU would not put women’s rights in jeopardy.

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.


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