Sturgeon ‘humiliated’ as SNP MP urges Jack to intervene in gender row

East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow MP Dr Lisa Cameron
SNP MP Dr Lisa Cameron pictured in the Palace of Westminster. (Image: Parliament)

By Lucy Ashton

The Scottish Daily Express is reporting that more cracks have emerged within the unhappy SNP group at Westminster after it was revealed that one of their MPs wrote to Alister Jack urging him to intervene in the gender reform row, undermining First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Dr Lisa Cameron wrote to the Scottish Secretary to ask him to find a “resolution” to widespread concerns over the controversial Gender Reform Recognition Bill.

It was on the same day he moved to invoke Section 35 of the Scotland Act to block the legislation from obtaining royal assent and sparking a constitutional war between both of Scotland’s governments.

Ms Sturgeon launched the attack on Westminster after this happened, accusing the Tories of a blatant assault on devolution and calling Mr Jack a “governor-general.”

But the bill has caused a growing divide within the nationalist party, with nine MSPs including former Minister Ash Regan voting against it and a number of MPs showing disdain for it.

Protesters outside the Scottish Parliament during a No to Self-ID protest on December 21, 2022 in Edinburgh
Protesters demonstrating against the bill outside the Scottish Parliament. 

It allows trans people to change gender without the need of a medical certificate if they have lived that way for a minimum of just three months.

But critics fear that this erodes women’s rights as it could allow predatory men access to formerly safe female-only spaces such as bathrooms or changing rooms.

Mr Jack blocked the bill from coming into force on January 17 after taking legal advice which said that it would negatively affected the UK-wide Equality Act, which is reserved legislation.

Alister Jack, Joanna Cherry, Ash Regan and Nicola Sturgeon and Rachael Hamilton.

On the same day, Dr Cameron wrote to him to highlight her and her constituents concerns about it, asking him to intervene to help with this.

The Daily Record reports that she said: “I have been asked to write to you by a number of my constituents who are concerned regarding the impact of gender-self ID on equality rights for women in Scotland and across the UK. They wish the UK Government to intervene to prevent this.”

“This is an extremely sensitive matter, and I would be hopeful that a resolution can be found that addresses my constituents’ concerns whilst not undermining the devolution settlement.”

Ms Sturgeon and her MSPs have been quick on the attack due to the intervention which they described as a “profound mistake” and claimed that the Tories were waging a culture war.

However, not all of her party members agree with her.

Joanna Cherry revealed on Wednesday that she does not believe “culture war” is the right word for the disagreement.

Labour’s shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray said that Ms Cherry’s letter was another “humiliating” blow for the Westminster group which has been in turmoil recently.

He said: “Leadership challenges, chief whip resignations and scandal after scandal – every day that goes by, it seems the SNP are more interested in standing up against each other than standing up for Scotland. The UK and Scottish governments should be getting around a table to resolve this issue.”

Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland Ian Murray
Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland Ian Murray.

An SNP source added fuel to the ongoing nationalist civil war as they told the Daily Record: “SNP MPs should be focused on defending the Scottish Parliament from the latest attack by the UK Government, not egging on Alister Jack as he oversteps the mark.”

Scottish Conservative shadow equalities spokesperson Rachael Hamilton MSP, said: “This intervention from one of Nicola Sturgeon’s MPs completely undermines the SNP’s claims that the UK Government’s use of a Section 35 order is somehow an attack on democracy.

“Even one of their own representatives recognised that her constituents had significant concerns over the SNP gender self-ID Bill in how it failed to protect the rights of women and girls.

“Lisa Cameron acted appropriately on their behalf, by asking the UK Government to intervene – although, as the Secretary of State has said repeatedly, their decision to do so was based solely on the bill impinging on equalities law in the rest of the UK, rather than its merits as a piece of legislation.

“Nicola Sturgeon railroaded this bill through the Scottish Parliament before Christmas and left the UK Government with little option but to make a Section 35 order.

“Ever since the First Minister and other senior SNP figures have used this situation to typically whip up a constitutional row. They will be no doubt left embarrassed by Lisa Cameron’s intervention, which shows that nationalist MPs on a whole host of subjects are no longer simply parroting Nicola Sturgeon’s rhetoric.”

Dr Cameron and the SNP were approached for comment.

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