DUP plans to back Labour on NHS pay and tuition fees

The DUP is planning to support Labour on calling for an end to the public sector pay cap in the NHS pay and against hikes in tuition fees , reports the Guardian.

The party propping up the Conservatives will dramatically switch sides by backing Jeremy Corbyn’s bid to secure higher NHS pay and block hikes in student fees.

The Government now faces a symbolic defeat on public sector pay, a day after scrapping the seven-year cap on pay rises.

The party’s MPs will vote with Labour in favour of a “fair pay rise” for NHS workers and against the government’s rise in tuition fees – the first time they will have broken with the Conservatives since their deal after the election.

Ian Paisley Jr, the DUP MP for North Antrim, made the comments as MPs began an opposition day debate, saying:

“I must say that myself and my colleagues are minded to support the motion … put before the house this evening.”

The party is also opposed to higher student fees, having voted against lifting the cap to £9,000 in 2010. The fees, which were trebled by the Cameron-Clegg coalition, rose to a maximum of £9,250 this term, including for current students, and will rise by inflation every following autumn.

Ian Paisley’s comments leave the Government facing defeat in the Commons if the motion is put to a vote.

DUP MPs were among those to sign a similar early day motion earlier this year

The Conservatives will refuse to back either motion, which were tabled by Labour partly with the intention of causing maximum division between May and the DUP.

The votes are believed to be non-binding and therefore fall outside the DUP’s confidence and supply agreement with Theresa May’s party.

Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP MP for Lagan Valley, denied that supporting Labour puts the current coalition at peril. He told the Guardian:

“No, not at all. “We made clear to her majesty’s government on issues like this we reserve the right to vote on the basis of our own manifesto. This doesn’t threaten the deal at all.”

Earlier this week, No 10 said the pay cap would end for prison officers and police staff, while signalling that the overall cap is likely to be eased in the next budget.

Union leaders raised the possibility of illegal strikes and demanded a five per cent pay boost for all public sector workers.

Both the Police Federation of England and Wales and the Prison Officers Association said the rises did not go far enough, as the figures were inconveniently announced on the same day figures showed the inflation rate had reached 2.9 per cent, did little to ease the criticism of the Government’s pay restraints.

The shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said the Government must not play different areas of the public sector off against each other. He said:

“If the Government are indeed abandoning this cap, let us put them on notice.

“It must apply to the whole of the public sector, including the 55% of workers who are not covered by the pay review bodies.

“And we also put them on warning, we will not accept a divide-and-rule approach, we will not accept playing one set of public sector workers off against another.” 

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