May's party denies 'cheating' in Brexit parliament vote

2018-07-18 17:54

Britain's ruling Conservative party rejected accusations of dirty tricks on Wednesday after breaking a voting pact with an opposition MP on maternity leave on a crucial piece of Brexit legislation.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Jo Swinson, who gave birth to a boy last month, accused the government of "cheating" the system as it sought to win two knife-edge votes on Tuesday night.

"Just how low will your government stoop?" she raged on Twitter.

Prime Minister Theresa May said her party's failure to uphold the so-called pairing deal was "done in error", but admitted it was "not good enough" and would not happen again.

Pairing is an informal agreement between MPs in opposing parties not to take part in a vote, thus allowing one of them to miss it without affecting the outcome.

Organised by the whips, who enforce party discipline, it is crucial for MPs who are ill or on maternity leave, as there is no system of proxy voting in parliament.

Swinson was "paired" with Conservative MP Brandon Lewis during Tuesday's votes on future trade policy after Brexit.

He abstained in some votes earlier in the day but took part in two in the evening, one of which the government lost and the other of which it won by just six votes.

Swinson said it was a "calculated, deliberate breaking of trust by government whips... to win at all costs".

Chief whip Julian Smith apologised for the "mistake", as did Lewis, and May told MPs that "we take pairing very seriously".

House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom said it was vital that new parents be able to spend time with their babies, but said there would be no inquiry as the incident would not have affected Tuesday's votes.

But other opposition MPs joined Swinson in expressing scepticism, with Labour women's spokesperson Dawn Butler saying it was an "absolutely appalling move".

Plans have been put forward for a system of proxy voting for new parents, but a debate is not due until later this year.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    theresa may  |  uk  |  brexit

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

And the Paws24 and Hill's winners are ...

Find out who the winners of our Paws24 pet pics and Q&a competitions are...

 

Paws

Keep your family and pets safe from rabies
5 scientific benefits of owning a cat
Why we love cats
8 great natural remedies for your pet
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.