Parliament to introduce proxy voting after outrage over treatment of pregnant MP

The UK government has given in to demands from MPs to allow proxy voting so parliamentarians who are pregnant or ill are not forced to appear in person for big decisions in the Commons.

Tulip Siddiq, MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, with her newborn son Raphael Mujib StJohn Percy Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

MPs will be asked to approve the measure following outrage during the vote on the proposed Brexit deal last week, when Labour MP Tulip Siddiq was forced to delay a Caesarian section against doctors’ advice to be pushed through the voting lobby in a wheelchair.

The climb-down came in response to an urgent question from Scottish Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson, who last year became the first MP to bring a baby into the Commons chamber during a debate.

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Ms Swinson told MPs it was “shameful” that parliamentarians were put in the position of choosing between their health and representing their constituents.

Responding for the government, Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom promised to bring a motion to the Commons on Monday that would introduce proxy voting for new parents.

“I profoundly believe that all new parents should be able to spend uninterrupted time with their new baby,” Ms Leadsom said.

“This is vital for both the physical and mental wellbeing of parents and their babies.

“I am truly delighted to be able to confirm to the House today that a substantive motion on proxy leave in the case of maternity, paternity and adoption has been tabled today for the House’s agreement on Monday 28 January.”

Ms Leadsom hailed the announcement as a “really positive moment” for Parliament. However, she warned that unless the motion goes unopposed, it may take longer for the proposals to be introduced.

The timing is crucial with votes on amendments to the government’s “plan B” for Brexit scheduled for the following day.

Fellow female MPs warned a “feminist army” will be unleashed against anyone who seeks to block the plans. Labour’s Jess Phillips pledged to “make a misery of the lives” of any MP who objects.