Northern Ireland news

British government U-turn on abortion averts potential Commons defeat

ONE EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO SALES. NO ARCHIVING. NO ALTERING OR MANIPULATING. NO USE ON SOCIAL MEDIA UNLESS AGREED BY HOC PHOTOGRAPHY SERVICE. MANDATORY CREDIT: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor.Handout photo issued by House of Commons of Prime Minister Theresa May speaking during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 1, 2017. See PA story POLITICS PMQs. Photo credit should read: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA Wire..NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder..
By Harriet Line, Richard Wheeler and Lizzy Buchan, Press Association Political Staff

MPs have approved the programme of laws brought forward by Theresa May's minority British government after a late U-turn on abortion funding averted a potential Commons defeat.

The queen's speech was approved by 323 votes to 309, majority 14, following six days of debate.

Chancellor Philip Hammond was required to confirm the government's intention to fund abortions in England for women arriving from Northern Ireland, amid growing pressure from MPs of all parties.

Labour's Stella Creasy had tabled an amendment to the queen's speech calling for "adequate funding" to ensure free access to abortions in England.

She withdrew it following the government's late change in policy.

Mrs May sat in the Commons on the government frontbench as the final result was read out.

A division list analysis shows 313 Tories were joined by nine of the 10 DUP MPs in supporting the queen's speech.

Independent Lady Hermon, who represents the Northern Ireland constituency of North Down, also supported the queen's speech.

There were 257 Labour MPs who voted against it, along with 35 SNP, 12 Liberal Democrats, four Plaid Cymru and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.

Theresa May, Philip Hammond, Stella Creasy, House of Commons

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