The frailty of the British Conservative government

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

It is odd to watch things shake out over the last year. David Cameron called for the Brexit vote, then opposed it, then lost, then resigned. May became Prime Minister and saw Labour fall into disarray. Thinking she had a strong hand she called snap elections. She lost her majority. Desperate to stay in power she seeks a deal with the DUP, whose conservative views on abortion are detested by most political parties. This brings a strong response from the rest of Parliament, which she has to bow before:

A decades-long struggle to give Northern Irish women access to terminations on the NHS in mainland Britain was unexpectedly won in the space of 24 hours on Thursday, as the UK government dramatically changed its policy in an attempt to head off a damaging Tory rebellion on the Queen’s speech.

Dozens of Conservative MPs were understood to have expressed to Tory whips their support for an amendment by the Labour MP Stella Creasy to allow Northern Irish women access to NHS-funded abortions in Great Britain.

Women from Northern Ireland are currently charged about £900 for a termination if they travel to have the procedure in mainland Britain, a policy upheld by a supreme court case earlier this month. Northern Ireland has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe and it is almost impossible for a women to have a safe, legal abortion there.

Ahead of the vote on Queen’s speech, the business secretary, Greg Clark, said the government had listened to the concerns, praising Creasy. “She has brought to the House an injustice – and we will put that injustice right,” he said. “We can be united in protecting the rights she correctly defends.”

In the end, no government defeat was necessary. Creasy withdrew her amendment, claiming victory. “I’m delighted at today’s announcement and satisfied by the commitments she has given,” Creasy said, as education secretary and equalities minister Justine Greening looked on, smiling. “Let us send a message to women everywhere that in this parliament their voices will be heard and their rights upheld,” she said, to cheers from both sides.

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