In Brief

Labour MP Tulip Siddiq delays giving birth for Brexit vote

The staunch Remainer says she has no faith in Parliament’s ‘pairing’ system after Tory broke agreement

A Labour MP has announced that she will delay the birth of her second child in order to vote against Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal tonight.

Tulip Siddiq was advised by doctors to have a Caesarian section either on Monday or today after developing gestational diabetes, but told the London Evening Standard that she had pushed back the operation to Thursday so she could have her say in Parliament.

The MP for Hampstead and Kilburn said she plans to be pushed through Parliament’s voting lobby in a wheelchair.

“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,” said Siddiq, who added that she is delaying the birth “against doctor’s advice”.

Siddiq spent the weekend in hospital under observation, after having steroid injections to help her baby’s lungs develop ahead of the birth, says HuffPost.

Currently, there is no system in place for absentee MPs to register their vote directly, despite ongoing debates over the implementation of a proxy voting system. Instead, Parliament is subject to a system that pairs MPs who are sick or on maternity leave with opposition politicians who are also unable to vote in person.

But Siddiq, a staunch Remainer, told the Standard that she no longer trusts the pairing system after Conservative MP Brandon Lewis broke the agreement in July by turning up for a key Brexit vote.

Lewis had been paired with Lib Dem deputy leader Jo Swinson, who was on maternity leave, but later claimed to have made an “honest mistake”. 

Commons Speaker John Bercow said that a proxy vote for Siddiq would be his “preference” but that it was not in his power to grant it. However, he was happy for her to be “nodded through”, the BBC reports.

Meanwhile, Siddiq said: “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.”

Labour’s Harriet Harman, the Commons’ longest-serving female MP, told Parliament on Monday that Siddiq should not be forced to choose between delaying an operation or “losing her right to vote”. 

Labour MP Emma Reynolds added: “How many babies do we collectively have to have in this House before we see any sort of change?” 

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