Caroline Lucas's call to a cross-party group of 10 top female politicians to block a no-deal Brexit
By Rafaella de Freitas
Caroline Lucas, Green Party Leader and MP for Brighton Pavilion, called on an all-female emergency cabinet to work for reconciliation. Lucas’ letter, called on Heidi Allen MP, Kirsty Blackman MP, Yvette Cooper MP, Justine Greening MP, Sylvia Hermon MP, Liz Saville Roberts MP, Anna Soubry MP, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Jo Swinson MP and Emily Thornberry MP to form the all-party cabinet group. The letter attributed the state of emergency not only to Brexit, but also the failure of dealing with the climate crisis.
We have seen politicians and activists link climate change to democracy, whereas resistance to the climate emergency has been a feature of right-wing governments, as seen in the United States and in Brazil. So it is not surprising that the anti-Brexit talk is linked to environmental security.
The call for an emergency cabinet is justified, since the Brexit vote, the UK has been labelled as a divided country, and for the first time we have seen political divisions that do not fall under the left-right spectrum with fundamental disagreements within the Labour and Conservative parties. However, critics have been skeptical about the ‘all-women’ feature of Lucas’ proposed cabinet.
The Green Party MP argues that history has shown women have been more able to “put aside tribal concerns and build trust more quickly” in times of crises, citing The Troubles with Northern Ireland, and in the talks of the Paris Agreement in 2010. The all-women group would also bring a fresh perspective to the conversation, given that UK politics is heavily male-led. Male voices have dominated the Brexit conversation - something Fashion Roundtable has written about previously - and the all-female feature is simply to balance out the status quo.
Another critique, raised by the BBC, is that the proposed cabinet is not “all-female”, but “all white female”. Lucas noted that her criteria was to select the leading female figures from the different parties, and it happened to be that they are all white, although Lucas wishes it were not the case. In the future, Lucas plans to open the group to more women to ensure better inclusion and representation, but inclusion has to happen from the start, and although non-white presence in Parliament is only at 8%, the Parties do have leading BAME female figures who would be equally suited for the task.
With the number of days to Brexit shrinking, and Parliament being in recess until early September, politicians and policy makers are seeing fewer options to avoid a departure with No Deal. Boris Johnson was purposefully divisive in his campaign, enforcing a dangerous attitude of hostility and conflict. Whether or not the MP’s idea is successful, it is at least reassuring to see that politicians have noted that the country needs reconciliation if it’s to be successful in navigating Brexit and global challenges.