- REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
- The House of Commons votes to pass the Queen’s Speech. Tory and DUP MPs team up to defeat opposition amendments on Brexit and austerity. Stella Creasy withdraws her abortion rights amendment after government agrees to let Northern Irish women use the NHS for abortion in England and Wales. Labour leader Corbyn sacks frontbenchers for supporting single market amendment.
LONDON – The Queen’s Speech was on Thursday afternoon given parliamentary approval after MPs voted in favour of Prime Minister Theresa May’s legislative programme and defeated all opposition amendments.
Prime Minister May announced the details of her legislative programme last week and today MPs from all parties were given the chance to either approve it or vote it down.
A majority of MP supported the Conservative minority’s government legislative programme by 323 votes to 309.
The Commons also defeated amendments tabled by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and other opposition MPs relating to domestic policy and the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union.
49 Labour MPs rebelled against leader Corbyn to vote in favour of the Brexit amendment calling for government to keep Britain inside the European single market, which was tabled by Labour MP and staunch Europhile Chuka Umunna. Among these, shadow ministers Andy Slaughter, Ruth Cadbury and Catherine West were sacked by Corbyn soon after the vote.
It wasn’t a completely successful day for the Tories, though. The government was forced into a major concession earlier today after agreeing to allow Northern Irish women use the NHS for abortions, just hours before MPs were set to vote on an amendment tabled by Labour MP Stella Creasy calling on the government to do so.
MPs from Northern Irish party the DUP respected the “confidence and supply” deal it reached with the Conservatives last week by siding with the government in all votes. Failure to pass the Queen’s Speech would have represented a huge vote of no confidence in May and would likely have triggered yet another general election.
Here’s how MPs voted:
The Queen’s Speech
FOR 323 / AGAINST 309
Labour’s alternative Queen’s Speech calling for an end to austerity – including greater action to tackle rising energy bills and stagnant wages
FOR 297 / AGAINST 323 (majority 26)
Brexit red-lines – including Britain not leaving the EU without a deal and pursuing a Brexit deal that “delivers the exact same benefits the UK has as a member of the single market and customs union”
FOR 101 / AGAINST 322 (majority 221)
Tory MPs toed the party line when it mattered but comments made by some Conservative backbenchers throughout this afternoon’s proceedings exposed how unhappy some are with the approach Prime Minister May has taken to form a functioning government. MP for South Cambridgeshire Heidi Allen told colleagues:
“I can barely put into words my anger at the deal my party has done with the DUP. We didn’t need to do it …
“I must put on record my distaste for the use of public funds to garner political control.
“We should have run with a minority government and showed the country what mature, progressive politics looks like.”
Voting in Westminster got underway at around 17:00 (BST) and was chaired by House Speaker John Bercow.