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'She spoke from the heart' - Ipswich MP praises 'powerful' Theresa May speech on domestic abuse

PUBLISHED: 19:22 02 October 2019 | UPDATED: 19:22 02 October 2019

Sandy Martin MP  Picture: NK Photography.co.uk

Sandy Martin MP Picture: NK Photography.co.uk

Archant

He may not have always seen eye-to-eye with the nation's former prime minister - but Ipswich MP Sandy Martin was full of praise for Theresa May's "powerful" speech on domestic abuse.

As Labour's MP for Suffolk's waterfront town since 2017, Mr Martin has spoken out on everything from the Conservative's approach to Brexit to her party's austerity measures.

But as Mrs May delivered her first parliamentary speech from the backbenches since leaving 10 Downing Street earlier this year, he was moved by her words on the need to protect victims of violence at home.

Mrs May said the proposed Domestic Abuse Bill, which her government introduced when she was still in power, was a "landmark piece of legislation" and a "once in a generation" chance to help victims.

The bill, currently going through its second reading in the House of Commons, defines domestic abuse in law for the first time and contains new legal protections. However, campaigners have criticised it as not doing enough to safeguard victims.

Mrs May, who was speaking from the backbenches for the first time in 21 years, argued that depictions of television of domestic violence "only tend to focus on one or two aspects of a much bigger and more complex picture".

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She pointed out that "sometimes there are no bruises", as abuse can be psychological as well as physical.

Mr Martin, who was in the House of Commons Chamber for the speech, said: "It was really powerful. She spoke from the heart. Everything she said about it was absolutely spot on.

"There is absolute cross-party consensus on this. We need to do something about domestic abuse. Things need to be changed.

"Women should not be cross-examined and should not have to become homeless when they leave their partners."

Changes to domestic abuse legislation were nearly lost when parliament looked like it would be prorogued or temporarily shut down, as that would have meant all possible new laws being debated would have been dropped.

But whatever happens in the House of Commons over the coming weeks, the government has said it will ensure the domestic abuse legislation continues.

That was a "welcome commitment", Mr Martin said.

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