Women for a People’s Vote launched as research shows female voices are being ignored on Brexit - People's Vote

Women for a People’s Vote launched as research shows female voices are being ignored on Brexit

Women now back remaining in the European Union by a margin of 12 points (56% to 44%), compared to a margin of just 2 per cent of men supporting Remain (51-49) according to new analysis by YouGov for People’s Vote.

The 12 point gap shows just how far women have moved since the referendum and reflects how differently women have responded to the Brexit debate than men. Today [Monday] a new group, Women for a People’s Vote, launches to put women’s voices at the front of the Brexit debate.

YouGov found 73 per cent of women fear promises made by politicians on Brexit will be broken, while only 13% of women think it is likely that Britain will get a good deal with the EU. An overwhelming majority of all women (83%),  and 86% of women over the age of 45, think the process of leaving the EU has been a mess. 

Women believe the NHS will get worse (35%), the economy will be weaker (44%) and taxes will go up (45%) after Brexit. That’s why 58% of women (excluding don’t knows) now support a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal.


The polling comes as new research published to coincide with the launch today of a new campaign group, Women for a People’s Vote, finds the debate about Brexit in the UK is dominated by men.

At the launch of Women for a People’s Vote, campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, comedian and political commentator Ayesha Hazarika and columnist Rachel Johnson will join the Chair of the Royal College of Nursing Maria Trewern and other women in discussing the impact of Brexit and come together to call for a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal.

The research finds that women have often been shut out of the Brexit debate in British political debate and in the media - either through underrepresentation in the media and a lack of women in senior civil service and political roles.

The dossier of research into the impact of Brexit on women finds:

  • On average, there is a 17 per cent gap between the number of male staff and their female counterparts in the Senior Civil Servant staff group in Brexit Departments.
  • In the last election, only 208 women were elected to the Commons, representing only 32 per cent of MPs. The percentage is even lower in the Lords, where only 206 female peers make up 26 per cent of the Chamber.


The dossier also finds that women have most to lose from Brexit: on the health service where Brexit will impact funding and staffing; on the cost of living where Brexit means higher prices and lower wages for women; on workers’ and social rights where Brexit threatens a host of vital safeguards for women; and for future generations where Brexit diminishes job prospects and opportunities to live, study, and work in other European countries.

  • Almost one million women’s’ jobs could be negatively affected by Brexit.
  • Brexit could expand the gender pay gap, with women in full time jobs £1250 a year worse off after Brexit.
  • Brexit will disproportionately affect women’s workplace rights, losing protection on equal pay, maternity pay, pregnancy, maternity and parental leave and vital protections against harassment and discrimination.


Commenting ahead of today’s launch, Caroline Criado-Perez said: 

“Women have been shut out from the Brexit debate since the very beginning. In the run-up to the referendum voices were not heard and issues that affected women were not discussed.

“Since Article 50 has been triggered nothing has changed and male voices and concerns continue to dominate. It’s not good enough. Women are set to be disproportionately affected by Brexit: we will be silenced no longer.”


Peter Kellner, one of Britain’s most respected pollsters and a former president of YouGov, said:

“A significant gender gap has opened up. Two years ago, both men and women backed Brexit, and by broadly similar margins: women (51-49%) backed Brexit almost as much as men (53-47%).

“Since then, the swing to Remain has been almost twice as much among women (a seven-point shift) as men (a four point shift). As a result, men favour Remain by a narrow two-point margin (51-49%), while the remain lead among women is as much as twelve points (56-44%).

“This figures begin to echo what happened in the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. In that vote, men narrowly backed Scotland going its own way, while women decisively voted in favour of Scotland remaining in the United Kingdom. The Britain-wide gender gap on Brexit today is less than the Scottish gender gap four years ago; but if current trends continue, women may again hold the key to the prospects of a clear outcome of a People’s Vote.” 


Lara Spirit, co-founder of Our Future Our Choice and a speaker at the Women for People’s Vote launch, said:

“A new gender gap has opened up in Britain, with women moving more decisively than men against Brexit. At the referendum women were slightly more likely than men to support Remain, but this has widened since then as the effects of Brexit on the economy, the NHS and living standards have become more clear.

“Women are more concerned than men with the dangers of upheaval from Brexit, and that’s why women are moving decisively in favour of a People’s Vote. But it’s clear that women’s voices are not being heard in a debate that has dominated by men in Westminster. Outside of the bubble women will be hit hardest by a chaotic Brexit and it’s in the interests of all political parties to recognise that women - who hold the keys to Downing Street in any election – must be listened to.”


Speaking at the launch, Maria Trewern, Chair of Council at the Royal College of Nursing, will say: 

“This College was founded by a group of forward thinking women, who established nursing as a profession at a time when women didn’t even have the vote. Since then our leaders have shaped the external health care landscape and continued to develop nursing education, knowledge and skills.

“At our annual conference this year, members representing all areas of nursing from across the UK  voted for us to lobby the UK Government for a vote on the final deal. This is not about reversing the outcome of the Brexit vote. Our members want to have the right to vote on the deal that’s negotiated to make sure it works for their profession and their patients.

“Last week we sent letters to the Westminster party leaders to warn that Brexit poses an immediate risk to both the provision of safe and effective patient care, as well as collective efforts to improve population health. This UK nursing shortage risks being worsened because of the continuing uncertainty surrounding the status of EU nursing staff.

“EU nurses are not only a vital part of our workforce – they, and nursing staff from around the world, are part of our local communities, they add to the cultural richness of the nursing profession and reaffirm its global reach. We must make those colleagues feel valued and want to stay here in the UK after Brexit.”


Notes to editors

  1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 18,772 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 31st July - 20th August 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
  2. The full tables can be accessed here:https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/in/pages/15508/attachments/original/1535728901/Gender_tracker_poll.xls?1535728901
  3. The Dossier launched today by Women for a People’s Vote is here: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/in/pages/15508/attachments/original/1535728986/w4pv_dossier_final2.pdf?1535728986
  4. Women for a People’s Vote will be launched today at 0900Hrs, Monday 3rd September at the Royal College of Nursing, 20 Cavendish Square, Marylebone, London, W1G 0RN.