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Gay Conservative Ruth Davidson had a hilarious put-down for the DUP

Nick Duffy October 3, 2017
(Photo: BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has spoken about getting ‘into bed’ with the Democratic Unionist Party.

The UK Conservative government is being propped up via a confidence and supply deal with the DUP, a hardline ultra-conservative party from Northern Ireland.

A number of the DUP MPs who the Conservatives are dealing with have expressly homophobic views, while the party has employed peace process powers to block equal marriage in Northern Ireland.

Ruth Davidson, who leads the Conservatives in Scotland, was asked about the DUP during an interview with The Times Red Box.

Asked about the Conservative Party getting into bed with the DUP, the gay party leader joked: “I’m not sure [DUP leader] Arlene Foster would be comfortable with the idea of being in bed with me.”

Ruth Davidson

She added of the deal: “I think it was quite important to me that it wasn’t a formalised coalition. I think it’s good that it’s an agreement and not that.

“I wasn’t part of the negotiation so I can’t speak knowledgeably about that, but I did speak very early on after the election to the Prime Minister when there was talk about such a deal going through. I said I would be deeply uncomfortable with that.

“I also said that in terms of the LGBT community, we needed to ensure that as a party, we demonstrated that we would never roll back on the advancements made in the rest of the United Kingdom, and that we would use any influence that we had to advance further LGBT rights in Northern Ireland itself.”

The Conservative government moved quickly after the election to confirm a swathe of LGBT rights reforms, relaxing the gay blood ban and reviewing .

Davidson said: “You’re seeing some of the work that Justine Greening is doing on trans rights, you’re seeing that work that’s going on.

“I was down for political cabinet after the election, and there was a broad agreement around the cabinet table that we needed to get on, and needed to crack on and do some of these things as an early indication, so that those that were genuinely concerned about it could have that reassurance.”

She added: “It’s pretty wrong that there’s a part of the United Kingdom that doesn’t recognise equal marriage.”

Related: Why doesn’t Northern Ireland have equal marriage yet?

Ms Davidson noted that there was majority support in Northern Ireland for equal marriage and a majority in the devolved Parliament, but the DUP has employed peace process powers known as a petition of concern to override a democratic vote.

She added: “You’ve got a public majority, you’ve got a Parliamentary majority, but it still doesn’t happen. The times will change, and that will have to change.”

“I think that it should happen, but you get into very difficult waters if you devolve something to a legislature and then suddenly [start] telling the devolved legislature what to do.

“What I asked the Prime Minister for was an assurance that we as a party and she as Prime Minister would do everything that we could to make sure that there was movement in Northern Ireland on this issue. That was an assurance that I received.”

Asked whether the entirety of the Cabinet agrees with upcoming transgender rights reforms, Ms Davidson said: “I’m not entirely sure that there’s total agreement, but there is a recognition of where we’re going, and I think that’s the right thing to do.

“To be honest, I haven’t spoken to people about this in any great depth. I know it’s an area of policy that Justine Greening has taken on and she’s doing a great job with it.

“I think that this is the next area we have to get it right. Don’t get me wrong here, there is a genuine agreement of where we’re going on this.

“I don’t think that just because Brexit is happening, you should stop doing everything else that needs doing.

“I get that you’ve got lots of officials attached to the work going on [with Brexit]… but I do think that if Brexit weren’t happening, there would be a lot of intellectual thought and heft within the centre-right looking at other issues.

“I think we have to make sure we don’t drop the ball in other areas.”

More: Arlene Foster, Conservative, democratic unionist party, DUP, Gay, LGBT, Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Scotland, Scottish, Tory

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