Borders MP votes against extending equal marriage rights to Northern Ireland

Borders MP John Lamont.
Borders MP John Lamont.

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont has insisted that he supports same sex marriage, despite voting against extending that right to Northern Ireland.

MPs yesterday backed amendments requiring the Westminster government to liberalise abortion and extend equal marriage to Northern Ireland if devolution is not restored.

It was part of a Commons debate aimed at keeping Northern Ireland running in the absence of devolved government.

MPs backed the same-sex marriage amendment by 383 votes to 73, while the abortion amendment was backed 332 to 99.

However Mr Lamont was among the minority who voted against both amendments, claiming they were devolved issues that should be decided by locally elected members in Northern Ireland.

The conservative MP said he hoped that a change in the law surrounding abortion and same sex marriage in Northern Ireland would come, but that it was a decision for the Northern Ireland Assembly.

“I am a strong supporter of same sex marriage, indeed I voted in favour of a change in the law for Scotland when I was an MSP,” Mr Lamont told us.

“However this is a devolved issue and I do not think it was right for Westminster to legislate on a decision that was for locally elected members of the Northern Ireland Assembly. You can imagine the uproar from Nicola Sturgeon if the UK Parliament passed laws on something that was controlled by Holyrood.

“Scottish MPs from other parties also voted against these changes, presumably because they shared my view that it is important to respect the devolution settlement.”

Neither amendment automatically changes the law in Northern Ireland, where same-sex marriage is not legal and abortion is only allowed in very limited circumstances.

The clause will require secondary legislation, and will only come into force if a devolved government at Stormont is not formed by October 21.