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MP Mark Prisk defends votes against abortion and gay marriage reform in Northern Ireland

MP Mark Prisk (13643318)
MP Mark Prisk (13643318)

Bishop's Stortford's MP Mark Prisk has defended his decision to vote against the liberalisation of abortion and the extension of same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland.

The House of Commons was discussing how to extend the Government's legal powers to keep the province running after its devolved government collapsed in January 2017.

Today (Wednesday) Mr Prisk said: "Yesterday's votes were about the Northern Ireland Executive Bill, where powers have been devolved to local people. I strongly support that devolution and don't believe we should unpick it, even for really important issues like abortion or same-sex relationships.

"So it was a difficult decision, pitting important social issues against how people in Northern Ireland are governed and whether we still believe in devolution."

Labour's Conor McGinn put forward a proposal to the NI Executive Formation Bill that if the assembly at Stormont is not restored by October 21, the Government in Westminster should legislate for same-sex marriage.

The abortion amendment was put forward by his fellow Labour MP, Stella Creasy. Neither automatically changes the law in Ulster, where same-sex marriage is illegal and abortion is allowed only in very limited circumstances.

In the House of Commons on Tuesday, politicians backed the same-sex marriage amendment by 383 votes to 73 while the abortion amendment was backed 332 to 99.

Mr Prisk said: "On balance I felt that whilst I don't agree with the current rules on these two issues in Northern Ireland and would want them to be changed, I believe that the decision is for local people there, under the agreed arrangements. That's why I voted as I did.

"If we want to run all human rights decision from Westminster, we should then scrap the current devolution settlement. What we shouldn't do is unpick two parts of it in this way."

While Mr Prisk backs Jeremy Hunt as the next leader of the Conservative party, his view echoed the stance of Boris Johnson, Mr Hunt's rival for the prime minister's job, Boris Johnson.

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