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Former Labour minister backs UK Government use of Section 35 order

A FORMER Labour minister has backed the UK Government’s use of a Section 35 order to stop Scotland’s gender reforms from becoming law, hinting at further splits within the party.

David Blunkett, a former UK Home Secretary under Tony Blair, admitted that Labour’s policy on the row was “all over the place” but sided with Scottish Secretary Alister Jack.

We told how Jack laid a Section 35 order in the House of Commons last week to stop the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from being given Royal Assent and becoming law.

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The move sparked outrage, with the Scottish Government insisting it will “vigorously” defend the legislation and is set to seek a judicial review.

Following the move, splits began to appear between the positions of UK and Scottish Labour on whether or not the UK Government made the right decision.

Speaking to the Daily Record, Blunkett said: “It was right to use Section 35. I’m sick and tired of identity politics. I’m sick of having to debate it over and over again. We need respect.”

Asked about Labour’s position on the issue, he said: “We are a bit all over the place, if I’m honest. We’ve just got to be clear.

The National: The Section 35 row has highlighted splits within UK and Scottish Labour's positions on gender reform
The Section 35 row has highlighted splits within UK and Scottish Labour’s positions on gender reform (Image: PA)

“Respect for 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.”

“Sex and gender are entirely separate things,” Blunkett added.

“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.”

The majority of Scottish Labour MSPs backed the gender reforms in Holyrood, while Labour leader Keir Starmer was criticised for stating that he had “concerns” about allowing 16-year-olds to legally change their gender, which the legislation allowed for, but with a longer time period of reflection in place than for those over 18.

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While Scottish Labour MSP Monia Lennon blasted the Tories for the move, she also criticised Starmer and said she was “very disappointed”, accusing him of “undermining” the Scottish arm of the party.

Meanwhile, Ian Murray, the party’s only Scottish MP, said that the UK and Scottish Governments should sort the issue out between them. Starmer has not yet offered a definitive position on the row.

It comes as SNP Westminster group leader Stephen Flynn lodged a “prayer” motion in the House of Commons in a bid to have the Section 35 order annulled.



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