Strategic Silences in the Brexit Debate: Gender, Marginality and Governance

Roberta Guerrina, Hailey Murphy


This article explores some of the medium term implications of the EU Referendum on the position and future of women’s rights in the UK. Using process tracing, the article explores the complex relationship between EU and UK legislation in the area of maternity rights. Specifically, it argues that considering the UK government’s opposition to the original Pregnant Worker Directive (1992) and later to the abandoned Amendment Directive, we can expect these regulations to become watered down. The economic and political environment that shaped the EU Referendum campaigns will frame the UK’s negotiations to leave the EU in favour of de-regulation. The UK’s withdrawal from European institutions increases the vulnerability of marginal groups and interests as layers of representation are taken away. Moreover, the invisibility of gender issues and the largely strategic deployment of women in the actual campaigns is likely to compound the impact of the well-established position of the UK on equality matters, as highlighted by negotiations on the pregnant worker directives.

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