Queen’s speech amendments: Creasy victorious on women’s rights as single market causes frontbench sackings

Stella Creasy forced the Government into a significant climbdown over abortion access for Northern Irish women, as Chuka Umunna’s single market amendment led to three frontbench sackings.

Creasy had proposed an amendment to the Queen’s Speech allowing free NHS abortions for Northern Irish women, who are British taxpayers, in England and Wales. The Government, faced with the prospect of the amendment passing and a potentially significant Tory rebellion, with the Home Secretary among those who hinted they might support it, announced that it would enact the policy without a vote being needed.

Creasy then withdrew the amendment.

Northern Ireland is not covered by the 1967 Abortion Act, with terminations legal only in instances where the mother’s life is at risk.

Creasy said, as she withdrew her amendment with education secretary and equalities minister Justine Greening looking on approvingly, “I’m delighted at today’s announcement and satisfied by the commitments [from the government].”

“Let us send a message to women everywhere that in this parliament their voices will be heard and their rights upheld,” she added.

Umunna’s pro-single market amendment was defeated in the house, but backed by 49 Labour MPs — including several frontbenchers. Daniel Zeichner resigned his position to vote for the amendment, with Ruth Cadbury, Catherine West and Andy Slaughter all dismissed from their positions after voting against the whip.

The last wave of frontbench resignations and subsequent reshuffle was also caused by Brexit, with several top names leaving their positions to vote against article 50 earlier this year 

In total 101 MPs voted for the amendment, which called for the Government not to leave the EU without a deal, to guarantee a parliamentary vote on the outcome of the negotiations, to set up transitional arrangements and to “set out proposals to remain within the customs union and single market”.

The Streatham MP tweeted the full text of the amendment:

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