SOME MPs are reported to be angry at Ann Widdecombe's behaviour last Friday in refusing to support a private member's bill in order to give her own anti-abortion proposal a better chance of survival.
John Browne's "right of reply" bill needed the votes of 100 MPs to carry it to an all-important second reading. Ms Widdecombe is said to have walked into, and then out of, the "aye" lobby when it became clear that Mr Browne was struggling to collect the necessary number of votes.
"I would not make the accusation myself, but Ann Widdecombe left the lobby right in front of my eyes because she thought it would be better for her bill — in fact she told me so as she went past me, "Mr Browne told the Catholic Herald.
His private member's bill the first to be discussed in the current list which places Ms Widdecombe at number seven — only managed to muster 98 votes, two short of the number required. John Browne, the Conservative member for Winchester, noted that Ann Widdecombe had supported the right of reply principle last year when it was put down as an early day motion. "These private members' machinations bring -out the worst in MPs," he said.
Ms Widdecombe is hoping to introduce, in effect, the Alton bill of last year, which sought to reduce the legal time limit on abortion to 18 weeks.
However, the fall of Mr Browne's bill is unlikely to generate any more time for Ms Widdecombe's, which will only be read on March 3 if the business in front of it has been completed.
However, Ms Widdecombe told the Catholic Herald she had not voted for the bill both for tactical reasons and "because it was flawed from top to bottom. It was very different from the Early Day Motion of last year," she said.