Theresa May's government thwarts Labour bid to end cap on public sector pay in first test of Tory-DUP deal

Lucy White
Theresa May Seeks Queen's Permission To Form A UK Government
The vote to amend the Queen's speech was the first major test of the Tory-DUP deal (Source: Getty)

The government stamped out a Labour bid to end the cap on public sector pay tonight, as the Tory-DUP deal faced it first parliamentary test.

Labour had launched an attempt to amend the Queen's Speech, seeking to force the government to end cuts to the police and fire service and give public sector workers a rise in wages.

But the opposition was defeated by 14 votes, as 323 MPs elected to maintain the one per cent pay cap.

“Tonight, the Conservatives had an opportunity to put their money where their mouth is, by ending cuts to our police and fire service and lifting the public sector pay cap,” Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said after the vote.

“Although government ministers said they had learned the lessons of the general election and were listening to voters, it is clear that nothing has changed.”

Read more: Public sector pay has started falling sooner than forecasted - and it's going to keep falling

The final result followed a day of confusion regarding the line the government would take.

Senior Conservative figure Sir Oliver Letwin, who served under Margaret Thatcher, suggested on the BBC's Today programme that tax raises could be levied to boost public sector pay.

And as the afternoon began, a Number 10 source signalled the government may lift the cap. Conservative MP Johnny Mercer tweeted that he was in favour of raising pay, but would not vote with the opposition as he accused them of playing a “political game”.

Number 10 later insisted that policy on the pay cap had not changed, in a move termed “a u-turn on a u-turn”.

“This is a bitter disappointment for nurses and others in the public sector,” said Janet Davies, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing.

“At lunchtime, there were signs the government was listening to our calls but by the evening they voted to keep the pay cap in place. Our members’ ‘summer of protest’ campaign continues.”

Read more: Forget Labour's £80,000: Britons only feel rich with £370,000 a year

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