Move would show ‘complete contempt’ for the Scottish parliament, Nicola Sturgeon says, who accuses Keir Starmer of being ‘pale imitation’ of Tories
This is what Keir Starmer said in his LBC interview about Scotland’s gender recognition reform bill, and the UK government’s reported intention to block it.
Starmer suggested the SNP and the Tories were both exploiting the Scottish gender recognition bill for political advantage. He said:
I am worried about the fact that I think this is being used by the SNP as a sort of devolution political football. And I think it’s being used by the government – or might be used – as a divisive football in relation to the particular issue.
On this whole issue of trans rights, I think the government is looking to divide people rather than bring people together.
He refused to say whether Labour would support the UK government if it did block the legislation. When it was put to him that, from what he was saying about his reservations about the bill that he was minded to support Rishi Sunak on this, he did not accept that. He said he would want to see exactly what the government said before deciding how to react. Blocking Scottish legislation would be “a big step for a government to take”, he said. But he also said No 10 was treading “very, very carefully” (which rather undermines the claim he made about the Tories potentially exploiting this for party political advantage).
He said that he accepted the Gender Recognition Act needed to be modernised. But he confirmed that he thought people should not be able to self-certify their gender at the age of 16 (as they would be able to under the Scottish law). And he said he was worried about the potential impact of the Scottish bill on UK equality laws.
He said that only a tiny proportion of people were likely to want to change gender. He said:
I approach it on the basis that for 99.9-something percent of women, it is all about biology. Sex-based rights matter, and we must preserve all those wins that we’ve had for women over many years, and including safe spaces for women.
Whilst I am sympathetic to the change that is made to make the rights of trans people in Scotland, I think we may have a clash between the position in the UK-wide legislation and the position in Scotland …
[The legislation] may mean – even though I suspect political mischief on the part of the Conservative government and culture wars – they may have a point. It is arguable, at least, that what’s happened in Scotland has a potential impact on the legislation as it operates UK-wide.