This month Stella Creasy will make history as the first MP to appoint a temp for her six-month leave
It’s hard to believe that in 2019, maternity cover has not yet been offered to pregnant Members of Parliament. Fortunately that out-of-date concept is now changing, and going forward MPs will be able to appoint a locum to cover their work duties.
This month, Stella Creasy will make history as the first MP to appoint a locum for her maternity cover. Kizzy Gardiner, 35, who begins her new role on November 18, told the Evening Standard, ‘I’m astonished that in 2019 this is the first time we’re doing this.’
Kizzy will take up casework, campaigns and concerns of Walthamstow residents during Stella’s six-month maternity leave. Meanwhile Martin Whitfield, MP for East Lothian, will act as Creasy’s proxy, voting on her behalf in any Parliamentary votes during her leave.
Speaking about the new decision, Stella told ES, ‘I’ve spoken very publicly about the difficulties I’ve had in getting pregnant, and the miscarriages I’ve faced, [is that I] was then talking to the Parliamentary authorities who were like, ‘We don’t recognise that MPs go on maternity leave.”
Kizzy will be paid the equivalent of £50,000 a year, pro rata, by Ipsa, which pays the salaries of MPs and their staff. Reflecting on the interview process, Stella – who has been a Member of Parliament for the London constituency of Walthamstow since the 2010 general election – said, ‘What was genuinely quite upsetting on the day we interviewed for the position, was that every single woman – pretty much – asked about abuse, and what it was like to be in the public eye. It made me … I mean I felt very personally responsible.’
The Labour & Co-op candidate has been targeted by the anti-abortion group CBR UK, and its #StopStella campaign, since July, when she helped persuade MPs to vote to give women in Northern Ireland the same abortion rights as in the rest of the UK.
Last week Stella was also one of 72 female MPs who signed an open letter of support for Meghan Markle. She expanded, ‘All of us wanted to say: ‘No, no, no, the problem isn’t with you, it’s with the environment you’re being put into, and you need to know that people see and hear that’.’
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