Rishi Sunak confirms he will block Nicola Sturgeon’s gender identity law

Rishi Sunak will prevent Nicola Sturgeon’s controversial gender identity legislation from going into effect, it was confirmed tonight.

In an unprecedented move, the Prime Minister will prevent Holyrood legislation from receiving royal assent after warning it would cause legal chaos across the country.

Mr Sunak’s dramatic action quickly sparked a new row with Ms Sturgeon’s SNP-led government in Edinburgh.

His decision came just hours after the First Minister insisted it would be “outrage” if Westminster halted reforms passed by the Scottish Parliament last month.

Tonight, following the Prime Minister’s move, Ms Sturgeon launched a “head-on attack” on Holyrood and vowed her Scottish Government would continue to defend gender legislation.

This means the Scottish and UK governments could be headed for another showdown at the Supreme Court.

Less than two months ago, Supreme Court justices told Ms Sturgeon she could not hold a second independence referendum without Westminster’s prior approval.

To prevent the Gender Recognition Reform Act (Scotland) from becoming law, the UK The Government will issue an Order under Section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998.

The move is the first time UK ministers have applied a Section 35 order since decentralization more than two decades ago.

Nicola Sturgeon lashed out at Holyrood in a

Nicola Sturgeon lashed out at Holyrood in a “full frontal attack” and vowed her Scottish Government would continue to defend gender legislation

The Scottish First Minister had previously tried to warn the UK Government against blocking gender identity legislation

The Scottish First Minister had previously tried to warn the UK Government against blocking gender identity legislation

Alistair Jack, the Scottish Secretary, wrote to Ms Sturgeon today to update her on the UK Government's decision

Alistair Jack, the Scottish Secretary, wrote to Ms Sturgeon today to update her on the UK Government’s decision

Alistair Jack, the Scottish Secretary, wrote to Ms Sturgeon today to update her on the UK Government’s decision.

He said in a statement tonight: “Having thoroughly and carefully considered all the relevant advice and the policy implications, I am concerned that this legislation would have a negative impact on the application of UK equality legislation.

“Transgender people going through the process of changing their legal gender deserve our respect, support and understanding.

“My decision today concerns the implications of the legislation for the application of UK-wide equality protections and other reserved matters.

“I didn’t take this decision lightly. The bill would have significant implications for UK-wide equality issues in Scotland, England and Wales, among others.

“I have therefore come to the conclusion that this is the necessary and correct course of action.”

Ms Sturgeon responded to the announcement by promising to “defend the legislation and stand up for the Scottish Parliament”.

She also warned that the “Westminster veto” – if successful – would be “the first of many” over the Holyrood legislation.

“This is a frontal attack on our democratically elected Scottish Parliament and its ability to make its own decisions on delegated matters,” the First Minister added on Twitter.

Leading transgender rights charity Stonewall has accused the UK government of using the “nuclear option” in response to the Scottish law.

The charity’s chief executive, Nancy Kelley, also claimed Mr Sunak was using trans life as “political football”.

Rishi Sunak expressed his concerns about the reforms to Nicola Sturgeon at a private dinner in Inverness last week

Rishi Sunak expressed his concerns about the reforms to Nicola Sturgeon at a private dinner in Inverness last week

The measures passed in Holyrood were highly controversial both in Scotland and the rest of the UK (pictured, protests in Edinburgh last week).

The measures passed in Holyrood were highly controversial both in Scotland and the rest of the UK (pictured, protests in Edinburgh last week).

Sturgeon slams Starmer over “concerns” about gender equality

Nicola Sturgeon turned her fire on Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer today after he admitted he had “concerns” about the bill.

The First Minister accused Sir Keir of not opposing the Tories.

Noting that Scottish Labor MPs had voted in favor of the bill, she said if Sir Keir backed a bloc “he would have great contempt for his own Scottish party as well as the Scottish Parliament”.

She added: “We’ll see what happens this week, but that’s no justification for the action that’s being talked about.”

Sir Keir today repeated his comments on the bill over the weekend. Speaking to a Scottish trans activist on LBC, he said: “I’m afraid I think 16 is too young.

“Now people would just have different views about it. But I think 16 is too young for this process… I would choose 18. The age of adulthood in most cases.’

At a press conference earlier today, Ms Sturgeon had claimed transgender people risked being used as a “political weapon” if Westminster acted to block Scottish legislation.

The SNP leader insisted that the gender identity bill passed by MSPs last month falls under the jurisdiction of the Scottish Parliament, adding that “it does not affect the application of the Equality Act”.

“If I think there’s a decision to challenge it, it’s going to be quite simply a political decision, and I think it’s going to use trans people – already one of the most vulnerable, stigmatized groups in our society – as a political weapon,” he said you .

“And I think that’s going to be unconscionable and unjustifiable and really quite shameful.”

The bill will allow trans people to self-identify without a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and will lower the minimum age at which Scots can legally change their gender from 18 to 16.

It also shortens the timeframe for obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) from two years to three months for over-18s.

But it has raised fears that abusive men could take advantage of the new system and put Scotland on a constitutional collision course with Westminster.

The Scotland Act, which created a decentralized Scottish government and parliament, gives Westminster four weeks to consider bills passed by Holyrood that “could have an adverse effect on the application of the Act”.

The Gender Recognition Reform Bill (Scotland) was passed by MSPs on December 22, meaning the deadline should arrive on Wednesday.

Westminster Legal Council appears to have suggested that the new measures would ‘thwart’ UK equality legislation.

Mr Sunak expressed his concerns to Ms Sturgeon about the bill during a private dinner in Inverness last week.

He then told broadcasters: “Obviously this is a very sensitive area and I know there was very much debate and exchange about this when the law was passed in Scotland.

“What worries me is the impact of the bill in the UK. As is entirely customary, the UK Government would take advice on this.

“There may be implications across the UK that we need to be aware of and understand the implications of.

“We are doing that and once the government has received the final advice, it will determine the next steps.”

Keir Starmer told the BBC he thought 16 was too young an age for people to decide to legally change their birth sex

Keir Starmer told the BBC he thought 16 was too young an age for people to decide to legally change their birth sex

Labor has also raised concerns about the Holyrood legislation.

Sir Keir Starmer told the BBC yesterday that he doesn’t think 16 is old enough to have a gender reassignment surgery.

The Labor leader also raised concerns about the potential impact on Britain’s Equal Treatment Act but warned the issue was becoming “political football”.

Scottish Labor supported the gender identity reforms and almost all MSPs voted in favor of the final bill, despite being unsuccessful with an amendment tabled to clarify the application of UK equality legislation.

Monica Lennon, a Scottish Labor MP for Central Scotland, condemned tonight’s “shameful decision” by the UK Government, which she says was made for “cynical political reasons”.

“A bad day for democracy, decentralization and human rights,” she added.

“Anyone who thinks the Tories care about women’s rights or the interests of LGBTQ people is deluding themselves.”

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Emma Colton

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