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Moray MP Douglas Ross votes against same sex marriage and abortion bills

By Jonathan Clark

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Moray's Conservative MP Douglas Ross yesterday voted against an amendment to legalise same sex marriage and abortion in Northern Ireland, if an executive is not restored by October 21.

douglas Ross voted against the same sex marriage and abortion bills. Picture: Callum Mackay. Image No. 042264.
douglas Ross voted against the same sex marriage and abortion bills. Picture: Callum Mackay. Image No. 042264.

Northern Ireland's devolution collapsed in 2017 and these votes were part of a Commons debate to keep the country running in the absence of devolved government.

Mr Ross, who was given a free vote on the issue by the Conservatives, said last night he voted against the bill as he believes Northern Irish politicians should make these calls.

He tweeted: "My reasoning was that I believe these are decisions for elected politicians in Northern Ireland to determine and I hope we can see the re-establishment of the Assembly to focus on these crucial issues affecting people in Northern Ireland."

Richard Lochhead, Moray's SNP MSP, gave his reaction to Douglas' decision. He tweeted last night: "So disappointed to hear this. He has voted against equal rights and progress in Northern Ireland just as in Scotland we have been celebrating tolerance and inclusivity as part of Scottish Parliament's 20th anniversary."

And, this morning, Mr Lochhead, responding to Douglas' reasoning for voting against the bills, said: "Douglas didn’t abstain, which is what MPs do if they don’t what to express a view or influence a result. Instead, he voted against equal marriage and abortion rights in a failed bid to influence the result and in the same lobby as the bigoted DUP. No back-peddling changes that.

"It is now 2019, not 1919. He has offended many of his constituents who support equal rights, as well as many women who are appalled he voted to deny women in Northern Ireland abortion rights."

This morning, Mr Ross added: "I did consider abstaining but I felt that was more appropriate if I could decide one way or another. We were being asked to support or oppose implementing legislation in Northern Ireland I believe is best made by Northern Ireland's politicians.

"That is why I voted against. Not because of the subject matter, but because the vote would have seen the UK government implementing legislation on a matter devolved to Northern Ireland. I think it’s so important that Northern Ireland's politicians determine these matters as their constituents can then hold them accountable, something they can't do after last night's decision.

"I also worry that yesterday’s votes will make the re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Assembly less likely now the UK Parliament has legislated over devolved issues."

Both votes passed resoundingly and, if Northern Ireland doesn't have an executive restored by October 21, these laws will move in line with the rest of the United Kingdom.

Mr Ross was one of 73 MPs, all Conservative and DUP, to vote against legalising same sex marriage. 383 voted in favour.

And he was one of 99 to vote against liberalising abortion laws. 84 of those votes were Conservative, eight DUP, five Labour and two SNP. 332 voted in favour.

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