Ex-Conservative chair Brandon Lewis takes swipe at NI social conservatives
A section of Brandon Lewis’ interview with the Sunday Times saw him address abortion and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer / questioning issues (LGBTQ).
Mr Lewis indicated that certain parties were out-of-touch with their own voters (he did not name the DUP but with the UUP in the liberal hands of Doug Beattie, it will be seen as an indirect swipe at Edwin Poots’ outfit).
He was quoted as saying: “The contact I’ve had with people over here – the citizens, not the politicians – is there is a big group of people who want to see a more modern, liberal, progressive unionist approach to things.
“That means moving forward in a positive way on women’s rights, abortion and LGBTQ rights. It is clear to me that some of the political parties haven’t had the connection with grassroots voters they have had in the past.”
A majority of Mr Lewis’ own party voted against gay marriage in 2013 (although Mr Lewis voted in favour).
Recently his department, the Northern Ireland Office, changed its logo (as did the Tory Party) to celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month.
Mr Lewis also went on to say that he had met women who have had “harrowing experiences”, having to travel from Northern Ireland to England to get abortions, adding: “I don’t see how anyone can argue that women should not have access to the best quality healthcare”.
Arguably the most comprehensive recent poll on abortion in NI was the Life and Times’ Survey of 2016, run by Ulster University.
It found strong support for things like legalising abortion in cases where a baby has a serious abnormality which means it may not survive beyond birth (73% of respondents said this ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ should be legal).
However, on other specific scenarios, the majority of respondents were against abortion.
For instance, asked if abortion should be allowed for a woman who “feels that she can’t afford any more children”, 65% of respondents said it ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ should not.
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