72% of Conservative MPs reject undermining of devolution to impose abortion on Northern Ireland
ComRes MP survey results released today show that 72% of Conservative MPs reject Westminster undermining devolution to impose abortion on demand on Northern Ireland, with only 9% of Conservative MPs supporting undermining devolution.
MPs were also asked whether the House of Commons should hold a free vote on the issue, with again 72% of Conservative MPs rejecting a free vote being held on the issue and only 9% of Conservative MPs supporting undermining devolution in this way.
This survey shows that interfering with devolution in Northern Ireland would be deeply unpopular with Conservative MPs at a key time for the Prime Minister, in a minority Government.
These results have been released following a statement from a spokesperson for Number 10 this afternoon reiterating this issue was a matter for the devolved Northern Ireland government:
“…it’s important to recognise that the people of Northern Ireland are entitled to their own process, which is run by locally elected politicians. Our focus is restoring a democratically accountable devolved government in Northern Ireland so that locally accountable politicians can make decisions on behalf of the public they represent.”
The proposal to impose widescale abortion on Northern Ireland, made over the weekend by some English MPs, comes at a fragile time for the Northern Irish Assembly and devolutionary settlement, with political divisions leading to no Executive being formed since 26 January 2017, and significant concerns about how the UK’s exit from the European Union could affect the border with the Republic of Ireland, and the impact this could have on the Good Friday Agreement.
Yesterday women from a number of major groups in Northern Ireland came together to speak out against calls to force abortion on Northern Ireland. They published an open letter to Theresa May and all UK MPs. The letter emphasised that abortion is a devolved issue and it is for the people of Northern Ireland and their elected representatives to decide on what the law on abortion in Northern Ireland should be.
ComRes interviewed 150 MPs online or by self-completion paper survey between 1st and 28th March 2018. Data were weighted to be representative of the House of Commons by party, region and length of service. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
Attempts to undermine devolution are also seeing a backlash from within other parties with Labour MP for North Tyneside, Mary Glindon, weighing in on the debate with the following statement:
“The fact is that Northern Ireland, is a devolved administration and this remains a devolved issue that has to be decided by Stormont.”
“I have a lot of respect and admiration for Stella, but the most important thing now is to get the Northern Ireland Assembly up and running again, for the people of Northern Ireland, and that is where, I believe, Labour MPs should be putting their efforts at this time.”
“When full democracy is returned to Stormont then, I have no doubt, after this historic vote in the Republic of Ireland, the matter will be raised in the Northern Irish Assembly. But, taking any action on abortion rights will be a decision for the people of Northern Ireland, not for the UK Government, and, whatever our personal views on abortion, we must respect their right to exercise their devolved powers.”
Dawn McAvoy, co-founder of Both Lives Matter NI said:
“Across the UK this is the time for a better story around pregnancy crisis than assuming that abortion is what women want or need. We would ask that British MPs respect the people of Northern Ireland and their elected representatives. We do not want the social model of Great Britain imposed on us in this area. Progress isn’t the dehumanisation of our unborn children, progress is recognising that there are at least two lives in existence in every pregnancy and beginning the conversation from the point that Both Lives Matter.”
“If the British Government pursues this agenda they will have the chosen the easy way out and will be ignoring the real need to address the issues in a crisis pregnancy, which are more often than not due to societal systemic failures. Instead of pushing for the cheaper option of abortion, the British Government should respect devolution and the local NI government should immediately commit to addressing support and care for all during pregnancy; focused pathways of care if an unborn baby has been diagnosed with a life-limiting condition; widely available counselling for women in crisis pregnancy, especially those who are victims of sexual crime; affordable childcare for families; flexible working hours for families; provision to support young pregnant women who may still be completing academic studies; accommodation for homeless pregnant women and education for young people around sexual relationships and pregnancy. Women and babies deserve better than abortion because both lives matter.”