Tell us all about the bus
We’re going round London, particularly to those parts where there are lots of EU citizens, and we’re giving them practical advice such as what the government is making them do in relation to registering for settle status. We’ve also got lawyers on board who are giving free advice. The idea is to reassure Londoners that although there are all these hurdles being put in front of them, we value and appreciate them and we’re all Londoners.
And it’s going to be for four days?
Yes, so for the next four days we’re going to push the ten boroughs with the largest number of EU citizens and we’re also launching our website today which gives practical advice on what to do to register but also signpost where you can go for help.
What’s the main question you get from women?
Do I have to have £30,000 to stay in London? We’ve got as many women in London who have worked incredibly hard but don’t earn £30,000. The questions from women are also in relation to their family, how does this affect my children? Some women who ask questions may have a passport for another EU country but their husband or partner has a British passport. They’re worried about the impact it has on them. It’s all sorts of questions related to that. Some are in regards to property. What are the implications for property? These are understandable questions people have but we want to reassure women that from City Hall, we’re going to do all we can to satisfy government policies that have been put in place.
What are the challenges women are going to face post-Brexit?
I was an MP for many years and one of the things I realised when I was a member of parliament was when you look on the government policies on austerity for 2010, actually women suffered the worst and no one was talking about it. It made me think, what are the consequences of Brexit policies? Could it be intentionally or unintentionally that women are suffering the worst in relation to Brexit policies?
We’ve realised that in relation to a number of things, they are. That includes secured status, the requirements put on some of industries, that they earn £30,000. Women are suffering worse than men, particularly when we know that as it is women do less well as a gender so it’s really important that we understand the consequences of the government’s policies for Brexit but we also do as much as we can to make friends, colleagues, family members who are EU citizens feel welcome. We will do as much as we can to make it easier for them.
What do you worry about the most for your wife and the women you know post-Brexit?
My main concern is that I speak as someone who is the Mayor of the most progressive city in the world. In 2019, if you are a girl or woman, your life chances are less in the most progressive city in the world than if you are a boy or man. Our mission is to make sure all Londoners have their potential fulfilled and that’s why it’s important that we have schemes now where we sponsor targeted women to feel fulfilled, not just us at City Hall but the Met police service, the fire service, transport for London.
We’re reaching out to good employers to make sure they help women fulfil their potential and for girls to realise that no career is out of their reach, from the fire service to politics and the police service. It’s really important. The top Police Commissioner is a woman, the Fire Commissioner is a woman, the senior civil servant at City Hall, the Chief Officer, she’s a woman. More than half of my business advisors are women. Seven of the ten Deputy Mayors are women because I like to put in the best. It’s really important that we ensure girls and young women embarking on a career realise that no career is outside their reach. And by the way, if anyone ever has imposter syndrome, just look at British government. If they can do it, anyone can. Can I tell you this… there are some people who have no imposter syndrome and they’re in the current cabinet.
I met this inspiring woman campaigner, Amika George, and she’s amazing. She’s still at university. We’re working with the United Trade Union and working with City Hall and the fire service to make sure people realise that more than half of our population have periods so we need to talk about it.
What we’ve got to realise though is period poverty in London is a real issue. There are too many Londoners that live in poverty, we talk about food poverty but there’s period poverty as well. As a consequence of lobbying by women, brilliant volunteers and MPs that have done a great job raising this issue. I was really pleased that the Chancellor announced in his spring statement that we will make sure tampons are provided for all schoolgirls across the country.
There is a real issue over period poverty. It can’t be right. We are one of the richest cities in the world and yet we have women and girls who aren’t able to gain access to tampons. There’s a stigma. It is so upsetting to hear about girls not going to school because it’s the time of the month. Women talk about it all the time but men have also got to talk about it. To give credit to all the campaigners, Glamour has been great at raising this issue and the fact we’ve got a chancellor who’s a bloke and in his spring statement raising this issue, it puts a smile on my face. It shows it’s become a mainstream issue and all credit and power to all the brilliant campaigners. Your readers deserve credit.
What’s your big hope for the next 12 months for London and women in London?
In the next 12 months, I want parliament to give the British public their say in what happens in relation to Brexit. I think the British public should be given a say. Do we accept the deal parliament has voted for with the option of staying in the EU that’ll bring huge benefits to women and girls in particular but also to men and boys? One of the other big things we’ve got to focus on is gender inequality. There are too many girls and women who aren’t having their potential fulfilled. Over the next 12 months, I’m hoping to improve issues around ethnic diversity in relation to a number of jobs across London so there’s a lot of work to do. And also we’ve got a big election in London and I hope Londoners think I’ve done a pretty decent job and give me a chance to be there for another few years at least.
For more information for EU nationals please visit the EU Londoners Hub.