‘I asked Rishi to change the law on assisted dying – his answer gave me hope’ | Politics | News


Walking through the security gates I’ve seen so many times on TV felt incredibly surreal.

Two years after my father shared his story and launched the Express’s assisted dying campaign, I was about to meet the Prime Minister and ask for his help to change the law.

Dad was terrified he would suffer a slow and agonising death from blood cancer – just as my sister Katie did, aged just 46, from sarcoma.

His worst fears were realised last February when he spent his final days frightened, struggling to breathe and in agony.

It would have been so much kinder for him and his loved ones if he had been able to choose to die on his own terms.

READ MORE: Tributes paid to assisted dying campaigner David Minns

Arriving at Downing Street, I was nervous. I wanted to represent Dad and Katie well.

We were taken on a tour of the building, which was a real privilege, and I caught glimpses of rooms and objects steeped in history including Winston Churchill’s chair.

Then we entered another room – and there was the Prime Minister.

Rishi welcomed us and instantly made us feel at ease. I was impressed, he seemed much warmer in person than on television.

Everyone had the chance to ask a question. It’s still hard to talk about what happened to Dad so I had written mine down and practised saying the words throughout the week, to ensure I could get through it without becoming too emotional.

When the time came, I briefly told Rishi our story. I was surprised to find he knew about Dad and had read his written submission to the Health and Social Care Committee’s inquiry on assisted dying.

Rishi spoke about how moved he was by Dad’s experience. As we discussed how the law might change, I pushed him on why the matter had to rely on a private members’ bill rather than the Government introducing legislation.

I told him how urgent this is, when people are suffering and struggling right now.

Rishi said that, traditionally, the Government doesn’t lead parliament on these kinds of emotive topics.

That was the closest I came to becoming wound up because I know how important this is to so many people.

But the PM was very understanding and I was impressed with his response to all the questions. He really had taken the time to think about the issue.

The fact that he had read Dad’s submission was incredible. Dad would have been so proud to have heard the Prime Minister saying that in Downing Street.

Parliamentary procedure is so opaque to people like me, there seem to be so many machinations and competing interests.

I don’t know whether I would say I have confidence yet but I really hope we are moving closer to law change on assisted dying.

I believed the Prime Minister when he said the Government would ensure there was time to fully debate an assisted dying bill, if one was introduced that had parliamentary support. From what I have personally seen and heard, the mood among MPs is certainly shifting.

And although he couldn’t give his personal view on whether the law should change, I suspect he has an open mind. This is an important signal to his party – we should not close this conversation down.

I’m incredibly grateful to the Express for giving a platform to people like Dad to have their voices heard and to Dignity in Dying whose campaign has been so effective. It has given me hope that people care about this issue.

I felt very lucky to be there with the Prime Minister, to keep this on his agenda. I hope I did Dad proud.


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