» Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Asked what the Prime Minister’s view on abortion issues was, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that the Prime Minister had said in the House last July and repeated in his interview with Cosmopolitan magazine seven weeks ago that this was a matter for a free vote and individual conscience on both sides of the House. He believed that it should be debated in a calm, rational and non-partisan way. Therefore he felt it would be a pity if this became a party political issue or indeed a General election issue. Asked if it might return to the agenda after the election, the PMOS said it was a matter for individual MPs rather than for Government. As the Prime Minister had said in the Cosmopolitan article, there were no plans to change the time limit at this stage. The Prime Minister recognised however that people would debate the issue. He believed that debate should be calm, rational and non-partisan and it would be a pity if it became a party-political or General Election issue.

Put to him that it had been Cardinal Murphy O’Connor who had raised the issue, rather than the opposition, the PMOS said that the Catholic Church has a well known position on this issue, but it was only one of many issues that the Cardinal mentioned and it should be taken within that context. Asked to comment on the Cardinal’s view that Labour was no longer the traditional party for Catholics, the PMOS said that he would not get into the party political aspects of this. However it was a statement of fact that the Catholic Church has a well known view on abortion and expressed that view on a regular basis, as was its right. Asked if it would be considered to be opportunism to make this a party-political issue, the PMOS said that he wasn’t going to get into the business of commenting on other people or their motives. The Prime Minister recognised that people had different views on this but on the whole this country has handled this issue well and handled it in a mature, calm, rational and non-partisan way. That was the way he believed things should continue.

Asked if the Prime Minister felt that religion had any part to play in a General election, the PMOS said that he would not get drawn into talking about party political matters or General Elections. The Prime Minister recognised that on this particular issue people had very strong views, and they were perfectly entitled to express those views. His approach was that this was a matter for a free vote, on conscience for both sides of the House and should be handled in a non-partisan way.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

1 Comment »

  1. Nice to see that the PM can find time to brief the many readers of Cosmo – a major proportion of the voting electorate – on his overview of the matter.

    Such a pity that he doesn’t have the bottle to face a slightly more incisive interviewer – Paxman or Humphries perhaps – on this, or any other topic it would seem.

    Comment by Chuck Unsworth — 15 Mar 2005 on 1:52 pm | Link

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