Tory MP says many divorced people now regret splitting up after being left alone during lockdown

James MorrisSenior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
Yahoo News UK
Sir Christopher Chope speaks out against divorce law reform in the Commons on Wednesday. (Parliamentlive.tv)
Sir Christopher Chope speaks out against divorce law reform in the Commons on Wednesday. (Parliamentlive.tv)

A Tory MP has claimed many divorced people now regret separating from their partners after being left alone during the coronavirus lockdown.

Sir Christopher Chope said he “suspects” more than 50% regret splitting up as he accused the government of “cultural Marxism”.

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Chope was speaking during a House of Commons debate about the government’s plans to relax divorce laws.

If the divorce, dissolution and separation bill becomes law, it will remove the requirement for a spouse to provide “facts” about the breakdown of the marriage. Instead, they will only need to say the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

Currently in England and Wales, unless someone can prove adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion, the only way to obtain a divorce without a spouse’s agreement is to live apart for five years.

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Chope, one of a handful of Tory MPs speaking out against the bill on Wednesday, said: “Many marriage breakdowns are temporary and not irretrievable – that’s why this issue of evidence for irretrievable breakdown is so important.

“Sometimes the parties interpret the breakdown as irretrievable, they get divorced and they live to regret it later.

“And who can doubt that there are many divorcees on their own during the COVID-19 lockdown who desperately wish that they had persisted with their marriage?”

Chope said a fellow MP had referred to 50% of divorcees having regrets, before he added: “I suspect following this lockdown that percentage might increase even further.

“The government almost seems to be venturing down the same route as those who support cultural Marxism.”

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Fellow backbench Tory MP Fiona Bruce, opening the debate, said: “The removal of fault sends out the signal that marriage can be unilaterally exited with no available recourse for the party who has been left.”

Labour’s shadow justice minister Alex Cunningham said the party supports “reforming some of the archaic and outdated hoops that people have to jump through if they want their marriage to end”.

The bill, which was being debated at its committee stage, ultimately passed to its next stage.

It has three more parliamentary hurdles to clear before it gains Royal Assent to become law.

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