HARRIET Harman MP called Brexit a "huge disaster" during her Swindon Festival of Literature talk.

Mrs Harman made time in her hectic schedule to appear at the festival for a lively and entertaining chat before zipping back to Westminster to vote on a key Brexit bill.

The Arts Centre was packed with people who were keen to spend their lunchtimes in the company of Britain's longest-serving female MP.

Mrs Harman spoke to BBC Wiltshire's Dan O'Brien and took questions from the audience.

One audience member asked if Brexit could be prevented somehow.

Mrs Harman replied: "I think Brexit is going to be so problematic in all aspects - security, the environment, our approach to global affairs, Ireland, the economy - that surely we're not going to go ahead and do this to ourselves.

"I think it's a huge disaster and we're only talking about things that will make it less bad, not things which will help keep us where we were.

"We still have no idea what the negotiating stance with Europe is and it's really unclear where we're going to end up."

Another audience member noted how the two biggest political parties have been divided on key issues like Brexit, for the Tories, and Jeremy Corbyn, for the Labour party.

Mrs Harman agreed: "It's a more fractured time than I can ever remember, I've never seen a government so fragmented and divided.

"There's a lot of turbulence around the leadership in the Labour party but the party has always been a broad church and we need to keep that to have our reach across a wide spectrum of views."

In response to a question about a possible female leader of her party, Mrs Harman said: "I don't think we'll have a leadership election any time soon but when we do, I think the leader must be a woman.

"It's embarrassing that after 100 years, we keep choosing from amongst the men and not amongst the women.

"The Tories have had two women leaders and we've had none."

The former interim leader of the Labour Party has been in politics for decades.

Her talk discussed how things have changed for female politicians since she was first elected, why she wrote her memoir 'A Woman's Work' after previously despising the idea of doing so, and her fondness for Swindon.

Mrs Harman said: "It's fantastic to be back in Swindon, I've been here so many times.

"There are parts of the country which are completely strange to me that I've never visited, but I've been here often because it's got two constituencies that keep changing hands between parties.

"I was really against memoirs because when I was in cabinet meetings, I'd look at my colleagues sat next to me and they'd be writing diaries for their memoirs.

"Then I realised that women are hidden from history unless we write about it, so I made a virtuous U-turn and wrote it all down.

"It's not just my story, it's our generation's lives, and we can't leave it to the men to explain the revolution that there had been in the home, in the workplace, and in politics."

Her remarks were often met with applause, laughter, and, when noting the misogyny experienced by women over the years, appalled gasps.

Mrs Harman added: "The women's movement said no, we would are not subordinate to men and we are not defined by who we marry.

"Everything had been wrong for the past few centuries and we were determined to change the status quo.

"We regarded ourselves as equal and we weren't regarded as equal so we were going to do something about that.

"I was five months pregnant when I was elected [in 1982], the House of Commons was 97 per cent men and three per cent women.

"I felt so out of place and my skin prickled with discomfort, but the point was I was in there to change things.

"After the 1997 general election, there were 100 female Labour MPs in government."