Liz Truss’s bid to ban trans women from sports runs out of time after MPs discuss ferrets instead

Former UK prime minister Liz Truss’s recent attempt to ban transgender women from female spaces ran out of time and will now not be debated after MPs joined forces to “talk it out” for five hours, including discussing ferret name choices.

Truss, the UK’s shortest-serving prime minister, sponsored the bill – entitled the Health and Equality Acts (Amendment) Bill – saying it would define sex in law as biological and, in her view, end the “absurd and dangerous situation where biological males self-defining as females can access girls’ and women’s toilets and so on – as well as sports competitions”. 

In recent months, Liz Truss has become increasingly vocal over trans issues and has aligned herself with hard-right groups and figures, even appearing at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in the US state of Maryland last month, where she claimed that “trans activists” had infiltrated the UK’s civil service.

One of Liz Truss’s allies, Secretary of State for Trade Kemi Badenoch, slammed the “filibuster”, saying that Labour MPs had used parliamentary time to discuss ferret name choices instead of “protecting children.”

Badenoch’s “ferret name choices” comment referred to an exchange between Labour MP for Garston and Halewood Maria Eagle, and Labour MP for Rotherham Sarah Champion.

Champion said: “I am interested that my right hon. Friend is keenly mentioning ferrets at every opportunity that she can get in this debate, so let me just put it on record that my brother had a ferret called Oscar.”

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Eagle replied: “My hon. Friend now has that on the record. I do not really know what else to say about that, except that I am sure that Oscar brought her brother great joy.”

Conservative MP for North Devon Selaine Saxby also joined in the Animal Welfare debate after she was asked by Ms Eagle whether she had ever owned a ferret, “and if so, what was that ferret’s name?”

Saxby replied: “That is an excellent intervention. I will come to ferrets, but unfortunately I have not had the pleasure of one at home myself.”

At one point, the Animal Welfare debate segued into a discussion of the soap opera Coronation Street, with Labour MP for Chester Samantha Dixon saying: “Is my hon. Friend aware of a recent Coronation Street storyline on precisely this issue? It involved the indomitable Evelyn, who is, of course, played by Maureen Lipman, and covered the issues around puppy farming. It was a strong, educational storyline.”

A bill aimed at ban conversion therapy failed to move through Parliament on Friday 1 March for the same reasons, after a debate on it ran out of time: with anti-conversion therapy ban MPs, including gender-critical Labour MP Rosie Duffield and several Conservative MPs, similarly accused of ‘filibustering’.

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