May’s ‘historic humiliating defeat‘ is one we can never forget in a hurry as more dramas unfold.
Heavily pregnant Labour MP Tulip Siddiq who is representing Hampstead & Kilburn has postponed the date of her Caesarean section by two days and took to lobby by wheelchair, in order to vote against Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
The 36-year-old, who is 9 month pregnant said:
“If my son enters the world even one day later than the doctors advised, but it’s a world with a better chance of a strong relationship between Britain and Europe, then that’s worth fighting for.”
Ms Siddiq had a difficult first pregnancy with her daughter Azalea, now two, and had originally been due to give birth by elective caesarean section on February 4.
However, after developing gestational diabetes, doctors at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead advised she deliver the baby at 37 weeks, either 15th Tuesday or Wednesday 16th.
She asked medical staff if she could shift the date back to Thursday 17th, which they agreed to.
Ms Siddiq who had spent the weekend in hospital under observation after having steroid injections that must be taken before the birth to help accelerate development of the baby’s lungs.
Doctors had wanted her to have these injections 48-hours before the caesarean, but that would still have meant she would have been in hospital at the time of the vote.
She said: “The Royal Free has been very clear on their legal and health duties. This is a high risk pregnancy and I am doing this against doctor’s advice.”
Remember that usually, heavily pregnant MPs, those with newborns and the sick are able to be “paired” with an opposition party member who also cannot vote so the overall result is not affected.
But after Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis broke a pairing arrangement with Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Jo Swinson in July 2018, Ms Siddiq said she could no longer trust the system.
Mr Lewis later apologised and said he had voted “by accident”.
Ms Siddiq said: “If the pairing system is not honoured, there’s nothing I can do, and it’s going to be a very close vote. I’ve had no pressure at all from the whips to come and vote but this is the biggest vote of my lifetime.
Recall, last year, on another Brexit vote, a Tory M.P. made a similar deal with an M.P. who had just given birth but voted anyway.) Yet the result was that Siddiq voted the same way as Boris Johnson, the slapdash Tory and former Foreign Secretary, who made a career out of casually trashing Europe, and as Jacob Rees-Mogg, the theatrical, hardcore Tory Brexiteer.
I’m sorry Jo. I think it was an honest mistake made by the whips in fast-moving circumstances. I know how important the pair is to everyone, especially new parents, and I apologise. Also apologies for late reply, been speaking at an event.
— Brandon Lewis (@BrandonLewis) July 17, 2018
“I’ve sat down with my husband Chris and he said to me this is my choice but that he would support me.
“I am thinking about my child’s future when I made this decision – his future in the world. If it comes to an absolute emergency, I will of course prioritise the baby’s health.
“I’m choosing in a sense between career and my family life and I feel it’s totally unfair and if we want more women in politics and we want people to come from different backgrounds, we need change and to introduce proxy voting.”
The staunch Remainer lost her seat in Jeremy Corbyn’s frontbench after voting against the introduction of Article 50 and she is campaigning for a second referendum. Her constituency voted 76 percent Remain.
The Commons’ Procedure Committee has researched how proxy voting could be introduced and a caucus of pregnant MPs are set to lobby the Speaker for this to be introduced in Parliament as soon as possible.
In the Commons this afternoon, the Government was chastised by the Speaker for not introducing proxy voting quick enough, despite MPs debating it for more than a year ago.
John Bercow said it was damaging to the reputation of Parliament that no system had been put in place to enable pregnant and new mums to vote without having to appear in person.
Speaking to the Commons today after the issue during a point of order, Mr Bercow said:
“It is extremely regrettable that almost a year after the first debate and over four months after the second debate this change has not been made. This is frankly lamentable, and very disadvantageous and injurious to the reputation of this house.”
He urged Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom to organise a proxy vote for Ms Siddiq immediately or allow her to vote from her hospital bed.
This would extend the custom of chief whips “nodding through” a seriously ill person who is able to get to Parliament, even if they cannot physically walk through the lobby.
He said: “I hope we can get progressive change, and what better opportunity to do so than before our historic vote tomorrow.”
Conceding defeat May announced after the tally, “It is clear that the House does not support this deal. But tonight’s vote tells us nothing about what it does support. Nothing about how or even if it intends to honor the decision the British people took in a referendum Parliament decided to hold.”
Siddiq thanked her followers for supporting her decision.
“Thank you all for supportive messages. My decision to delay my baby’s birth is not one I take lightly. Let me be clear, I have no faith in the pairing system in July the Govt stole the vote of a new mother. It’s my duty to represent Hampstead & Kilburn, and I will do just that.
Thank you all for supportive messages. My decision to delay my baby's birth is not one I take lightly. Let me be clear, I have no faith in the pairing system – in July the Govt stole the vote of a new mother. It's my duty to represent Hampstead & Kilburn, and I will do just that.
— Tulip Siddiq (@TulipSiddiq) January 15, 2019
However, Tory MP Kemi Badenoch criticised Siddiq’s decision on politics live.
“She wants to make a point… Wants to show she did everything she could to stop Brexit… That one vote is not really going to make a difference.” Tory MP @KemiBadenoch on Labour MP @TulipSiddiq delaying child birth for Tue #Brexit vote
“She wants to make a point… Wants to show she did everything she could to stop Brexit… That one vote is not really going to make a difference.” Tory MP @KemiBadenoch on Labour MP @TulipSiddiq delaying child birth for Tue #Brexit vote#politicslive https://t.co/kAMUc2Hh8t pic.twitter.com/fOnL7FcT3z
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) January 15, 2019
“Labour MP Tulip Siddiq delays birth to vote on Brexit.” Imagine putting a Parliamentary vote (one that’s not even a close run thing) ahead of the health of your unborn baby. These Remoaners are insane. My child would always come first every time. https://t.co/nfTbKrzF3K
— Julia Hartley-Brewer (@JuliaHB1) January 15, 2019
Julian Hartley Brewer also took a swipe on her decision.
“Labour MP Tulip Siddiq delays birth to vote on Brexit.” Imagine putting a Parliamentary vote (one that’s not even a close run thing) ahead of the health of your unborn baby. These Remoaners are insane. My child would always come first every time.”