Labour in-fighting erupts as MPs ‘heckle and sneer’ at each other

Labour MP Rosie Duffield responds to Jamie Wallis statement

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In-fighting has broken out in the Labour Party as MPs have failed to agree on the issue of trans rights. This came after the Government moved to block Scotland’s Gender Reform Act, which is intended to allow trans people in Scotland to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate more easily. Yesterday, Labour MP Rosie Duffield was heckled by her fellow Labour MPs in the House of Commons when speaking in a debate on the act.

Ms Duffield, who opposes the act, asked the Scottish secretary Alister Jack to “recognise the strength of feeling amongst women, women’s rights’ groups and activists in Scotland, that this Bill seeks to allow anyone at all to legally self-identify as either sex and therefore enter all spaces, including those necessarily segregated by sex, such as domestic violence settings, changing rooms and prisons”.

Former Labour cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw shouted “absolute rubbish” as she spoke, while fellow Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle also appeared to be trying to shout her down.

Meanwhile, Labour MPs Luke Pollard and Charlotte Nichols could be seen shaking their heads.

But Conservative Scotland Secretary Mr Jack said Ms Duffield “deserves a lot of respect for her courage on standing up on this issue”.

Writing on Twitter after the debate, Ms Duffield said: “Being shouted down in the Chamber by Labour men who clearly don’t want women to speak up for our rights to single-sex spaces. How very progressive.”

She added: “The protection of single-sex spaces for the most vulnerable women is at stake, so why on earth are Labour colleagues OK with this?”

But Labour shadow cabinet minister Emily Thornberry failed to defend Ms Duffield, with GB news presenter Isabel Webster accusing her of seeming “unconcerned that a women’s campaigner was being laughed at by men in the Commons”.

When asked whether Ms Duffield was “heckled” and “sneered at” by colleagues within her own party, the Shadow Attorney General told GB News: “I certainly heard one of my colleagues saying ‘no Rosie, that just isn’t right’.

“I didn’t hear anything else but I was a couple of rows in front of her. Maybe it was being drowned out by the Conservatives on the other side, who I could hear shouting ‘go on Rosie you’re right’ etc etc.

“This was not a debate that was frankly parliament’s finest hour.”

Presenter Isabel Webster pressed Ms Thornberry, saying: “It sounds to me as if you are unconcerned that a women’s campaigner was being laughed at by men in the commons.”

But Ms Thornberry responded: “You can say that, and that would not be true. But you can say what you like.”

There is division across the Labour party over the issue, with Shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell refusing to reveal her views on the issue.

Speaking to Times Radio, she said there is a “range of different opinions across Labour”, adding: “I have my own views, which I’m going to keep to myself.

“I’m not going to answer because I don’t want to reduce this argument to that.”

Speaking about the decision to block Ms Sturgeon’s legislation in the House of Commons yesterday, Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Jack told MPs that he did not take it “lightly”.

He said, after looking “closely at the potential impact of the Bill”, the Government decided it would have a “serious adverse impact” on the operation of the Equality Act 2010.

Mr Jack said the adverse impacts would “include impacts on the operation of single-sex clubs, associations and schools and protections, such as equal pay.”

He added: “My decision today is about the legislation’s consequences for the operation of GB-wide equalities protections and other reserved matters.”

But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called the intervention “a full-frontal attack on our democratically elected Scottish Parliament and its ability to make its own decisions on devolved matters”.

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