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Scots Tory chief Davidson storms out of interview over DUP questions

 

By Narjas Zatat

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has walked out in the middle of a TV interview after she was questioned about the DUP's stance on gay rights.

The unionist party is in talks with senior Tories about an agreement which would keep Theresa May's minority government in power.

While the party opposes same-sex marriage and is anti-abortion, a DUP MP has already said that gay rights in Great Britain will not be affected by any deal between his party and the Conservatives.

Ms Davidson has already sought assurances about LGBT rights from the Prime Minister ahead of the potential alliance, but when she was asked on Channel 4 News about the deal, she walked off camera.

"We have to work with other parties and that means taking on some of their ideas as well," she told reporter Ciaran Jenkins.

Continuing his line of inquiry, he asked: "Just on the DUP. Theresa May yesterday described the DUP as her 'friends'. Are you prepared to use that word? Are they your friends?"

Ms Davidson replied: "Well, look, I have friends in politics across many parties. But what I spoke to the Prime Minister about yesterday was the need for a categoric assurance that talking with the DUP would not result in any roll-back of LGBTI rights in the rest of the UK because, as the Conservative party, we are the party of equal marriage.

"We introduced it to the House of Commons and also we would use our influence to try and advance LGBTI rights in Northern Ireland, and they are assurances that I got."

But as he attempted to ask a follow-up question, Ms Davidson walked off. It is unclear why the Conservative leader decided to end the interview.

Ms Davidson was asked for comment but none had arrived by the time of publication.

Earlier, Strangford MP Jim Shannon, a Christian, said he was aware of concerns that had been raised by Ms Davidson, who recently described herself as "a Protestant Unionist about to marry an Irish Catholic".

Ms Davidson became engaged to partner Jen Wilson in 2016.

Mr Shannon told Christian website Premier: "We want to ensure that every one of the LGBT community have rights and their rights will be maintained. So, there's going to be no changes to that whatsoever. The situation in Northern Ireland is very different. The Northern Ireland Assembly will make those decisions - they're two diverse and different opinions."

A spokesperson for the DUP also told the website: "Social issues are devolved matters. We don't seek to change Great British law on it or expect them to do so here in Northern Ireland. Our manifesto is focused on important bread and butter issues such as the economy, health service and education."

Meanwhile, Scottish Secretary David Mundell has said he would like the DUP to adopt a different view on LGBTI issues.

The Conservative MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale became the first openly-gay Conservative Cabinet secretary when he came out in January 2015.

Mr Mundell told BBC Radio Scotland: "I would like to see the DUP change its position, and indeed Northern Ireland as a whole change its position, on LGBTI issues."

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