Rishi Sunak Could Block Scottish Gender Recognition Bill, Labour Calls Anti-Strike Laws A “Fundamental Mistake”
5 min read
Rishi Sunak could block the passage of a new bill in Scotland, aimed at making it easier for people to change their gender, over concerns it could go against UK equality laws.
Sources have told the Financial Times that “legal advice is clear” that the Scottish legislation could impact UK equality laws, which come under the purview of Westminster.
Under the law passed in Holyrood in December, people in Scotland will no longer need a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria in order to legally change their gender, and can apply for a gender-recognition certificate from age 16.
Downing Street has until 19 January to decide whether to invoke section 35 of the Scotland Act, which gives the UK government a veto over Scottish law that could impact on areas reserved for Westminster.
The SNP's Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said any move to block the bill passed by MSPs would be "an outrage".
The Prime Minister has already voiced concerns about the legislation, telling BBC’s Good Morning Scotland on Friday that “there may be impacts across the UK that we need to be aware of”.
Labour leader Keir Starmer also expressed his apprehensions over the new law, telling the BBC on Sunday that he believed “16 is too young to change legal gender”.
He stopped short, however, of calling for Westminster to block the passage of the legislation.
Defence select committee chair says UK tank donation to Ukraine “very late in the day”
Tobias Ellwood, who chairs the defence select committee, has said the UK’s donation of Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine is “very much welcome” but also “very late in the day”.
Ellwood told Times Radio that he was pleased that the UK was “finally gifting some serious hardware given the conflict has been raging for almost a year now”.
"I don’t want to take away what the United Kingdom has done in continually pushing that envelope on both the quality and indeed the quantity of military support that we should be gifting to Ukraine,” he continued.
"But this is very, very late in the day, possibly too late, unless other nations start to follow suit."
The Prime Minister reportedly told Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky during a call on Sunday that he would be sending 14 of the tanks to assist in the war against Russia, along with other equipment and artillery systems.
Downing Street said the donation was a signal of "the UK's ambition to intensify support”.
President Zelensky responded by saying that the tanks "will not only strengthen us on the battlefield, but also send the right signal to other partners".
Labour calls new anti-strike laws a “fundamental mistake”
Jonathan Reynolds, the shadow business secretary, has warned that new anti-strike legislation, due for its second reading in the Commons today, could worsen current walkouts.
The controversial new law will force unions to ensure a minimum level of service by paramedics, rail workers and the fire service during industrial action.
Reynolds told Times Radio that the government should focus on improving the economy as it has “been a very difficult 13 years for a lot of people in this country”.
“People are having a very difficult time and the government has got to respond to that, not by making it harder, making it illegal or taking away unfair dismissal protections for people who go on strike,” he continued.
"It has got to be willing to listen and negotiate and all the evidence suggests that this kind of approach from the government actually will make those disputes worse, it will prolong them because people can’t do the industrial action on the timescale that they would otherwise put forward and it is a fundamental mistake."
He added that he believed the legislation was a “sideshow” to distract from the fact that the government “are the ones responsible for the state of public services in this country”.
Ministers have been criticised for attempting to progress the legislation through Parliament over two days, which opposition parties say is not enough time for proper scrutiny.
MP who watched porn in Commons considering standing at next election
Neil Parish, a former MP who quit after admitting to watching porn in the Commons, has suggested he could stand again at the next general election.
He resigned his Tiverton and Honiton seat in April last year after a 12-year parliamentary career, following his admission that he had watched adult content on his phone during a debate and a committee meeting.
The former select committee chair claimed at the time that he had accidentally viewed an explicit video when browsing for tractors, before later doing so deliberately in the chamber.
Speaking on Sunday evening, Parish suggested he had “unfinished business” in Westminster and could try and stand again for the Conservative Party.
Asked by Times Radio about his potential return, he said: “Yes, at the moment I just don’t want to quite leave it.
“When you leave so suddenly like I had to, there is so much unfinished business. Therefore, at the moment, I don’t really want to leave it there.”
His seat was taken by the Liberal Democrats in the by-election prompted by his departure, overturning his majority of more than 24,000.
But, changes to seat layouts under the Boundary Commission review leads to the creation of a new seat which Parish claims “comes very close to my farm” and he would “very much consider standing there at the next general election”.
“I shall offer my services to the party – whether the party will have me or not is another matter,” he added.
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