CAMPAIGNERS and union leaders wrote to Theresa May yesterday demanding a “categoric assurance” that women’s rights and access to abortion will not be weakened in any deal with the DUP.
A letter to the PM urges her not to “turn the clock back,” or to turn her back on the women of Northern Ireland.
Signatories to the letter include the Fawcett Society, TUC, Royal College of Midwives and British Pregnancy Advisory Service.
The letter says: “Women in Northern Ireland are forced to travel to another part of the UK in order to access the same abortion services as women in the rest of the UK.
“This affects hundreds of women each year. Only those who can afford to travel and pay for treatment — as, despite being UK taxpayers, women resident in Northern Ireland are currently not entitled to NHS-funded abortion care in England — can do so.”
Ms May met DUP leader Arlene Foster in Downing Street for ongoing discussions about an agreement to bolster the Tory minority government. Ms Foster did not say whether she would agree to a deal.
A failure for the PM to gain support from the Christian fundamentalist party would risk the Queen’s Speech being voted down next week.
Meeting her MPs in Westminster, Ms Foster declared: “The future’s bright,” prompting Ian Paisley Jnr to quip: “The future’s orange” — a reference to the bigoted Orange Order that seeks to ignite sectarian tensions with militaristic marches through Catholic areas.
John Major, Tory prime minister during negotiations for the Good Friday Agreement, said on the BBC’s World at One that he was “wary” of any alliance because it could undermine the peace process.
“The danger is that however much any government tries, they will not be seen to be impartial if they are locked into a parliamentary deal with one of the Northern Ireland parties,” he said.
“And you never know in what unpredictable way things will turn out.”
Tories could lose voters by the “bucketload” in another election if they promise cash for votes with the DUP, when the money could be “equally well received” by Wales, Scotland, and “just about managing” families anywhere, he added.
Ms May told her own MPs: “I’m the person who got us into this mess and I’m the one who will get us out of it.”