DUP side with Labour on public sector pay increase and tuition fee cap

Could the DUP/Tory alliance be faltering after less than three months?

THE DEMOCRATIC UNIONIST PARTY (DUP) has sided with Labour by backing motions for an increase to NHS pay and capping tuition fees.

The embarrassing defeat for Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative government could signal the first cracks in their confidence and supply agreement formed with the DUP after this year’s general election. 

When the government realised they didn’t have a majority, they chose not to vote to avoid defeat.

The motions passed through parliament signal the first time the DUP has agreed to go against the wishes of the Tory government. 

“We reserve the right to vote on the basis of our own manifesto.” DUP

Speaking to the Guardian, Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said: “The government had no mandate to increase fees to begin with and if they do not now reverse the fee hike they will be defying the will of parliament in blatant disregard for our democracy”.

Despite the motions falling out-with the confidence and supply agreement between the Tories and the DUP, Labour could see this as a chance to exploit the fragile relationship formed in July in the wake of the election. 

The Tory/DUP deal confidence and supply deal means 10 DUP MPs will agree to back the Tories on “crucial” votes in the House of Commons, in exchange for an extra £1 bn funding for Northern Ireland over the next two years.

However, DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson defended his party’s stance on the issues, and denied there was any breakdown of the deal between them and the government, he said: ““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.”

The motions passed were non-binding, but could allow Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour to increase momentum in the battle against austerity.

Speaking to Sky News, DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds said: “"It is not part of the confidence and supply arrangements. We are separate parties, we are not part of the Government and we will make up our own mind on those issues."

He added that lifting the cap on public sector pay is DUP Party “policy.”

“And is it also now clear that the reason the Government did not divide on this motion is because they knew they would lose?” Jonathan Ashworth MP

This comes after reports that even backbench Conservative MPs want to see an end to the austerity measures implemented over seven years by the government.

It was revealed this week that police officers will get a two per cent increase next year, whilst prison officers will receive a one per cent increase throughout the UK, except in Scotland where these matters are devolved.

Speaking to the Independent, Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ““Is it now clear that the House has been unanimous in saying we should end the pay cap in the NHS and give health workers a fair pay rise?

“And is it also now clear that the reason the Government did not divide on this motion is because they knew they would lose?”

Picture courtesy of YouTube

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