David Blunkett backs Government plan to block Nicola Sturgeon’s gender identity reforms as ex-home secretary admits Labour is ‘a bit all over the place’ on controversial Scottish legislation
- David Blunkett says it’s ‘right’ for ministers to block Scottish gender reforms
- Labour ex-home secretary admits his party is ‘a bit all over the place’ on issue
- He puts pressure on Keir Starmer to be firmer in Labour’s response to the bill
Former home secretary David Blunkett today backed the Government’s decision to block Scotland’s gender identity reforms.
The Labour peer insisted it is ‘right’ for ministers to use Section 35 powers to stop the Scottish Parliament’s controversial bill from becoming law.
The ex-Cabinet minister also admitted his party was ‘a bit all over the place’ in its response to Holyrood’s Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has vowed to use Section 35 of the Scotland Act to prevent the bill from receiving royal assent.
He has acted amid warnings the bill, if it becomes law, could cause UK-wide chaos and interfere with equality legislation previously passed by Westminster.
It has set up another bitter row between Mr Sunak and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, whose SNP-led administration pushed the bill through the Scottish Parliament.
Lord Blunkett insisted it was ‘right’ for ministers to use Section 35 powers to stop the Scottish Parliament’s controversial bill from becoming law
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP-led administration pushed the bill through the Scottish Parliament
Lord Blunkett also put pressure on Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to be firmer in his party’s response to the controversial Scottish legislation
But Lord Blunkett, who served as home secretary in Tony Blair’s New Labour government, supported the PM’s action.
‘I happen to think on this issue, a very complex issue, that it was right to use Section 35,’ he told BBC Politics Live.
‘I’m sick and tired of identity politics. I’m sick of having to debate it over and over again. We need respect, we need genuine equality.’
Lord Blunkett also put pressure on Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to be firmer in his party’s response to the controversial Scottish bill.
Scottish Labour supported the gender identity reforms and almost all of its MSPs voted for the finalised bill in Holyrood.
But Sir Keir has admitted he has ‘concerns’ over the bill because he considers 16 to be too young to change gender.
He has also expressed worries about the impact of the legislation on UK-wide equality law.
Yet the Labour leader has not said whether he agrees with the Government’s use of Section 35 powers to block the legislation.
Asked about Labour’s current position, Lord Blunkett said: ‘We are a bit all over the place on it, if I’m honest.
‘We’ve just got to be clear. Respect, equality, ensuring people are treated properly, that we don’t alienate, that we care about how people are feeling and their development and the emotions they’re going through, but not pandering to situations which put aside 50 years of equality campaigning for women.’
Asked what he would like to hear from Sir Keir, the peer added: ‘Sex and gender are entirely separate things.
‘You can have someone who feels that they are of a different gender, you can help and support them. But in the end, women’s equality trumps it all.’
Lord Blunkett noted how the 2010 Equality Act was UK-wide and is supported by Labour, as he said his party ‘should be in favour of protecting people’ from issues that might arise from the Scottish bill.
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