Labour amendments proposing to make same-sex marriage and abortion legal in Northern Ireland were approved by the House of Commons this afternoon.
Conor McGinn’s ‘New Clause 1’ passed by a majority of 310, with 383 votes in favour and 73 against. No Labour MPs voted against the clause, which requires the government to extend equal marriage laws to Northern Ireland unless the devolved executive is formed before October 21st.
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Stella Creasy’s ‘New Clause 10’ amending the Northern Ireland Bill also passed by an overwhelming majority, with 332 votes in favour and 99 against. It requires the government to extend access to abortion in Northern Ireland, again unless power-sharing resumes.
Labour MPs Rosie Cooper, Helen Jones, Mike Kane, Rachael Maskell and Stephen Pound voted against the Creasy amendment. Conservative, Labour and SNP MPs were given a free vote on both the same-sex marriage and abortion amendments.
The power-sharing agreement in Stormont is thought very likely to remain collapsed beyond October, and the government has promised to respect the outcome of the votes today – although the legislation may damage the Conservative Party’s relationship with its confidence-and-supply partner the DUP.
Commenting on the results of the votes, Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Tony Lloyd said: “Today parliament has voted to ensure that love no longer has borders and women are not treated as second class citizens. The government must now act to bring forward legislation on marriage equality and abortion reform if the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive are not returned before the 21st October.
“Labour has long called on the government to take action on these issues and will work with the government to see it implemented. The size of the majority pays tribute to the campaigning of many in Northern Ireland and the determination of Labour MP’s Conor McGinn, Diana Johnson and Stella Creasy amongst others.”