Heavily pregnant Labour MP ‘accused of bringing down womankind’ for leaving House of Commons debate to eat

Tulip Siddiq was reportedly heavily reprimanded by the Conservative Deputy Speaker for leaving 

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The Independent Online

A heavily pregnant MP was allegedly accused of “bringing down the whole of womankind” and told not to play the “pregnancy card” after leaving a debate early to eat.

Tulip Siddiq, who was elected as the Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn in 2015, was criticised by the Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing after leaving a debate on Universal Credit welfare in the House of Commons after just over two hours, according to claims published by the Evening Standard.

Records show that at one point, Ms Laing told the House: “I also remind the House, because perhaps newer Members have forgotten, having been away for Christmas, that if one makes a speech in the Chamber, it is courteous and required by the rules of the House that one stays in the Chamber certainly for the following speech and usually for at least two speeches thereafter. The people who have not done so today know who they are.”

Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing

Witnesses said Ms Siddiq, who is seven months pregnant, was reportedly called over by Ms Laing after returning 45 minutes later and apologised for leaving without mentioning her pregnancy. 

But witnesses told the Standard Ms Laing was “really laying into her” during their “intense” exchange, and at one point told her: “Don’t play the pregnancy card with me”. 

Ms Siddiq told The Independent the reported incident highlighted how outdated conventions in the House of Commons are, particularly for those who are pregnant or have health problems.  

She said her focus is now directed at trying to update older Parliamentary conventions.  

“On the subject of voting, for example, it is time that certain procedures in the House were brought into the 21st century for those with individual circumstances that require greater flexibility," she said. 

“Just this week I tabled a cross-party Early Day Motion (920) to establish voting rights for MPs absent from Parliament due to maternity or paternity leave. Elsewhere in society these matters would just be common sense, but it seems Parliament lags behind in correcting its standing orders and conventions that are in some cases literally centuries old.”

A spokesperson for the House of Commons said it could not comment on reports of private conversations. It said “Rules and Courtesies of the House” state: “After you have spoken [in a debate] you must remain in the Chamber for at least the next two speeches.”

The spokesperson said “the chair is able to grant a brief leave of absence at his or her discretion” if a Member applies privately to the chair to leave the Chamber.

Ms Laing did not respond to requests for comment.