Marriage of convenience: It’s a grim image, but Theresa May believes the love-in between herself and Arlene Foster must continue – or she will lose what little appearance of authority she has left. She is, therefore, Ms Foster’s loyal servant [Image: Unity News UK].

We ended up with a new prime minister after last year’s general election without realising it, it seems: Arlene Foster of the far-right Democratic Unionist Party.

Ms Foster has already refused to allow the Conservative government to find a solution to the border issue that has vexed Brexit negotiations.

Now she is refusing to allow Mrs May to permit a Parliamentary vote on whether abortion should be permitted in Northern Ireland, after the landmark referendum decision in the republic over the weekend.

Government and Opposition MPs are raising alternative proposals, but Mrs May remains silent. The reason is clear, it seems:

What other answer could there be?

Mrs May knows she needs Ms Foster’s MPs if she is to have a majority in Parliament, but the DUP opposes abortion and would abandon the Conservatives if any choice were put – to MPs or to the people of Northern Ireland.

Every step she takes backs her further into a corner. She has become nothing but a slave to one of the smallest parties in Parliament.

How long can this slow death of democracy stretch on?

Theresa May was facing growing demands to allow a referendum on relaxing the abortion laws in Northern Ireland on Sunday after signalling that she will not risk alienating her DUP allies by letting MPs settle the matter with a parliamentary vote.

Conservative MPs and the Royal College of Midwives were among those calling for a referendum, which would give voters in Northern Ireland the chance to follow the example set by the Republic of Ireland after it backed abortion liberalisation by a surprise landslide of two to one.

Around 160 MPs have backed a letter, championed by the Labour MP Stella Creasy, saying the government should legislate to relax the abortion rules in Northern Ireland, which will now be the only place in Britain and Ireland where abortion is in most circumstances illegal. Creasy wants to force a vote by tabling an amendment to the forthcoming domestic violence bill.

Labour also said that, as a party, it was committed to extending the right to choose to Northern Ireland and that it would be “looking at legislative options” to try to orchestrate a vote in the Commons.

Source: MPs call for Theresa May to permit poll on abortion in Northern Ireland | World news | The Guardian


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