May and Corbyn face battle as MPs to vote on NI abortion rights and soft Brexit
THERESA May is facing a constitutional crisis as her fragile deal with the DUP is set to be battered by debate on abortion, today.
Labour MP Stella Creasy has challenged the Government over abortion rights for women in Northern Ireland, demanding that they be given free access to termination services in England.Labour MPs want to allow women from Northern Ireland to be able to have terminations for free in England – an amendment Creasy believes she has more than 500 MPs support on.Northern Ireland’s Appeal Court has said abortion reform should be left to Stormont’s Assembly as it ruled that the law was compatible with existing provision.
Campaigners claimed a DUP deal would lead to disaster for women who are made to pay for abortions and secretly make their way across the waters.Earlier this month the supreme court ruled terminations on the NHS would not be given to Northern Irish women.The DUP agreement with the May Government made no mention of the future plans.However, in Northern Ireland, some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe still exist. Labour MP for Walthamstow in London, Stella Creasy said: “This isn’t a devolved matter, this is about when they come to our shores here, UK taxpayers and their ability to use UK services.
“Did the government make any commitment to the DUP about this matter when it comes to the house or are Northern Irish women simply expected to pay the price for what feels like a forced marriage?”Cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom told MPs two Government departments are “discussing and looking very closely” at the issue. The talks come amid mounting Tory concerns, with former cabinet minister Maria Miller labelling the level of abortion access in Northern Ireland as “wrong”.
Mrs Miller said: “When will the Government be making a statement on access to abortion in Northern Ireland?”It’s wrong that women in Northern Ireland don’t have the same access to abortion as women in England, Wales and Scotland, and the High Court has ruled this law contravenes human rights law – which is a responsibility of the UK Government, not a devolved matter.
“When will the Government be making a statement to say how this wrong will be put right?” Commons Leader Ms Leadsom replied: “This is an incredibly sensitive and important issue, and to be very clear it’s my personal view that every woman should have the right to decide what happens to her own body. That is very clear.”The question of women from Northern Ireland accessing abortions in England is not one of whether they should have that access, it’s a question of devolution and the fact that health is devolved to Northern Ireland and therefore it’s the question of who should pay for it.
“What I can tell honourable members is the department for equalities and the Department of Health are discussing and looking very closely at this issue today.”Jeremy Corbyn is also facing a challenge on how to whip his MPs on the tabled amendment from Chuka Umunna on soft Brexit – allowing Britain to remain part of the single market and customs union.