A pregnant MP who turned up to parliament in a wheelchair to vote against Theresa May's Brexit deal will return to the House of Commons again tonight to be counted in the confidence vote against the government.
Tulip Siddiq, the member of parliament for Hampstead and Kilburn in north London, will be "nodded through" by the whips — meaning that she will not have to pass through the division lobbies with other MPs, but her vote will count as long as she is seen by the whips on the parliamentary estate.
The MP, who is 37 weeks pregnant, was advised by doctors to give birth by caesarean section earlier this week after developing gestational diabetes, but asked medics to delay her child's birth by two days so that she would be able to vote.
She is now due to give birth on Thursday, just hours after Wednesday night's confidence vote.
Siddiq said she wanted to vote in person because she did not trust the pairing system in which whips match up absent MPs from opposing sides so that their votes cancel each other out.
In an earlier crucial Brexit vote, Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson accused Conservative whips of deliberately breaking a pairing deal after her vote was not counted. The Tory whips claimed it had been an "honest mistake".
Members are allowed to be nodded through in special circumstances, such as when they are ill or have a small child with them. However, it still means they have to make their way to parliament, either in a car or even an ambulance.
Ahead of Tuesday's meaningful vote, Siddiq tweeted: "My decision to delay my baby's birth is not one I take lightly.
"Let me be clear, I have no faith in the pairing system - in July the Govt stole the vote of a new mother. It's my duty to represent Hampstead & Kilburn, and I will do just that."
She said she had agreed to be nodded through on Wednesday after receiving personal assurances from the prime minister that her vote would be counted.
"In light of the PM's personal assurances to me yesterday, I will be 'nodded through' for tonight's vote of no confidence," Siddiq tweeted. "I went through the division lobby in a wheelchair last night because pairing is broken, there is no proxy voting, and I wanted my vote recorded.
"Nodding through is not ideal, I will still have to travel to Parliament and wait for whips to check I am present even though I am giving birth tomorrow. The UK is in chaos and, clearly, much greater issues face the country, but Parliament needs dragging into the 21st century ASAP."
MPs have been campaigning for a proxy voting system, in which another MP will be able to cast a vote on behalf of a colleague. Although parliament has agreed to this in theory, a system has yet to be implemented.
Mother of the House and Labour MP Harriet Harman, who has been one of the key proponents of proxy voting, addressed Siddiq's situation in a point of order on Monday: “She should not have to choose between going through the division lobby in a wheelchair, nine months pregnant, having postponed her caesarean, or losing her right to vote.
“If the whips were to agree, and with the agreement of the Leader of the House, would it be possible, Mr Speaker, for you to facilitate her to have a proxy vote, so she can have her baby and have her vote? This is something the House agreed to in February last year.”
In response, Bercow added his support on proxy voting and called on Conservative and Labour whips to introduce the proxy system immediately, but Siddiq will still have to make her way down to Westminster to take part in Wednesday's crucial vote.
Hannah Al-Othman is a political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Hannah Al-Othman at email@example.com.
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