POLITICS
13/09/2018 17:41 BST | Updated 13/09/2018 19:36 BST

Jo Swinson Makes History By Bringing Her Baby To Commons For Debate On Proxy Voting

Baby Gabriel appeared with mum Jo Swinson during a debate on proxy voting for new parents.

An MP is thought to have made Parliamentary history after bringing her baby to the House of Commons chamber during a debate.

Jo Swinson appeared on the benches with her two-month-old son Gabriel on Thursday to hear the closing comments of a debate about proxy voting for MPs on parental leave.

While other MPs have brought their children to the chamber, the Lib Dem deputy leader is believed to be the first to bring a baby to an active debate.

If plans for proxy voting are pushed through, MPs would be able to nominate colleagues to vote on their behalf in Parliament in the weeks after having a baby. 

Parliament TV
Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson with her baby son Gabriel 

The debate comes after Swinson was at the centre of a voting scandal during her maternity leave this summer. 

The East Dunbartonshire MP accused the government of “cheating” to win a crunch Brexit vote in July after Conservative MP Brandon Lewis voted on the closely-contested Trade Bill, despite being ‘paired’ with Swinson. 

The pairing system, an informal arrangement, is intended to allow MPs to miss occasional votes by matching them up with politicians from other parties. Under the system, both MPs agree to miss the vote, thereby cancelling out each other’s votes.

“I’m sure you can imagine my fury when I found out the honourable member for Great Yarmouth had voted on those two knife-edge Brexit divisions, despite being paired with me as I nursed my two-week-old baby,” Swinson told the House during the debate.

Speaking in July, Lewis – who abstained from many of the day’s votes, but took part in the two closest divisions – called the incident an “honest mistake” in “fast-moving circumstances”.