May fails to vote for Northern Ireland same-sex marriage, days after Pride Month

Theresa May was not present during voting to extend the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom to Northern Ireland, exactly 4 days after claiming to be a Pride Ally.

The Prime Minister released a tweet on the 6th of July addressing the LGBTQ+ community in the UK, saying: “I will be your ally for the rest of my life.”

However, the Conservative Party’s leader was absent from Parliament for a recent vote on whether to legalize gay marriage and abortion in Northern Ireland.

65 Conservative MPs voted against the legalization policy, including Jacob Rees Mogg and James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities, and Local Government.

8 DUP MPs, out of a total of 10, also voted against the bill and claimed that the vote breached Northern Ireland’s devolution settlement.

All 10 DUP MPs displayed interest in voting against the bill, however two of the Unionist Party’s MPs, Gavin Robinson and Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, were enlisted to count MPs votes.

The legislation has put in place the ability for Westminster to legalize same-sex marriage and abortion in Northern Ireland, if Northern Ireland’s devolved parliament isn’t restored by the 21st of October.

While most of the United Kingdom has already had same-sex marriage and abortion legalized, Northern Ireland’s status as a devolved government has meant some control over which legislation was passed for the region.

However, Stormont’s Parliament has been suspended since early 2017, after Northern Ireland’s major Parties, Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party, failed to settle disagreements over who will lead the Parliament.

Northern Ireland currently holds the record for the longest period for a state to lack a sitting government, at over 600 days.

Should the two Political Parties fail to restore the region’s Government by this deadline, there is potential for Westminster to begin providing direct legislative focus on Northern Ireland, which has previously enjoyed some autonomy.

During the debating session for the bill, DUP MP Nigel Dodds said: “[This vote] is seeking to drive a coach and horses through the principle of devolution, overriding the concerns of the people in Northern Ireland.”

However, Conor McGinn, Labour MP for St Helens North, said: “This House has failed LGBT people in Northern Ireland before.”

McGinn added: “Tonight, we have a chance to do the right thing. People in Northern Ireland – and indeed across Britain and Ireland – are watching.”

All standing MPs for every Party except the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party voted in favour of the bill.

The legislation was the result of several years of campaigning by LGBTQ+ charities, and the efforts of MPs, including Labour MPs Conor McGinn, and Stella Creasy.

Theresa May pleads to business leaders for Brexit support

Speaking at the annual CBI conference in London, May told business leaders she is determined to deliver her Brexit plans.

She said: “We’ve worked hard to deliver a deal that puts jobs and livelihoods, prosperity and opportunity first.

Adding: “EU citizens will no longer be able to jump the queue ahead of engineers from Sydney or software developers from Delhi.”

May is trying to drum up business support for her controversial Brexit withdraw plan after a hammering last week. Several junior and senior ministers resigned including Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab and Work and Pensions secretary, Esther McVey over the deal which sets out the terms of the UK’s departure, including how much money will be paid to the EU, details of the transition period, citizen’s rights and the Northern Ireland issue.

Members of the Eurosceptic ERC headed by Jacob Rees-Mogg slid a leadership content into motion by filling letters of no confidence to the 1922. As of now only 23 letters  have been submitted to committee chair, Graham Brady with 48 needed to force a contest, though reports suggest the full set could be in by the end of the day.

Speaking on Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Theresa May warned internal critics against a bid, she said: “It is not going to make the negotiations any easier and it won’t change the parliamentary arithmetic.”

Asked if she had considered stepping down, May said: “No, I haven’t. Of course, it has been a tough week. Actually these negotiations have been tough right from the start but they were always going to get even more difficult right toward the end when we are coming to that conclusion.”

Ministers from the remaining 27 EU countries are meeting in Brussels to draft a political declaration setting out their future relationship with the UK, ahead of the deal being finalised on Sunday.

Brexit set for further delays as May abandons November summit

Brexit negotiations will likely drag into December as key divisions on the Irish border continue.

Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, had previously set November 21st as the date for a deal but EU ministers have dismissed the chances of a breakthrough this month.

Speaking with reporters in Brussels, Belgian Foreign Minister, Didier Reynders, said: “we are waiting for new news from London

“We have time, but not so much. For this month, it’s very difficult to make real progress, but before Christmas I’m hoping that it will be possible”

Theresa May has stated she will not accept any deal which excludes Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. Though, in a letter leaked to the Times May did not rule out the idea of Northern Ireland continuing to align with some single market rules if a backstop is activated.

DUP leader Arlene Foster reacted angrily and in response tweeted:

“The PM’s letter raises alarm bells for those who value the integrity of our precious union & for those who want a proper Brexit for the whole UK. From her letter, it appears the PM is wedded to the idea of a border down the Irish Sea with NI.”

A potential compromise would involve a UK-wide customs union until a free trade deal can be reached agreed.

Speaking to journalists as he arrived in Brussels for further talks, Brexit minister, Martin Callanan, said: “We’re working hard for a deal. There are a number of important issues we still have to get bottomed out.

“But we can’t rush it. We have to get the right deal. This is an agreement that will endure for many years.”

There are EU summits scheduled for the 13th and 14th of December which would leave little time for a parliamentary vote before the Christmas leave.

Irish PM warns UK to “stand by its commitments over Irish Border issue”

The Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar has told the UK Government that it must avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, honouring its commitments to the Irish Peace Process.

With the UK due to leave the EU on March 29th next year, tensions have been mounting that a deal to solve the border issue will not be reached. The EU has cited the issue of Ireland as the key reason no Brexit deal has been reached, and Theresa May has vowed to find a way to stop a hard border. And Varadkar, has said that if there is an arrangement reached, it cannot feature a time limit.

The has deepened in recent weeks due to disagreements over the agreed ‘backstop’, with questions being raised over whether it should apply to the whole of the UK or just Northern Ireland, as well as fears over a proposed ‘time limit.

Any agreement that sees the reintroduction of a hard border would inevitable break the Good Friday Agreement as it would mean goods would have to be checked when they pass through the border and there is speculation of passport checks at the border. However, if there was to be a backstop applying only to Northern Ireland and not the whole of the UK, then this would create a hard border in the sea between N.I. and the U.K., as Northern Ireland would stay in the customs union (potentially for a time-limited period).

Earlier today, the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, is reported to have called the Irish Taoiseach in order to “calm anger” across the sea over comments made by Brexit secretary Dominic Raab. Mr Raab is rumoured to have claimed there should be a time-limit of just three months on the Backstop agreement, which is said to have left Mr Varadkar deeply concerned and upset. Mrs May is claimed to have reassured him that her very own Brexit Secretary’s comments are not the UK’s policy, reemphasising her commitment to a full backstop that would work for the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain.