- Theresa May grilled by Jeremy Corbyn on whether she will scrap the public sector pay cap.
- Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell brands government a “cabinet of chaos” after senior minister Liz Truss also fails to clarify the policy.
- May described as “preposterous” for saying Britain under Corbyn’s rule would end up like Greece.
LONDON — Prime Minister Theresa May today refused to bend to calls to lift the cap on public sector pay as she warned that any reversal of her government’s austerity agenda would risk Britain turning into Greece.
Her cabinet has this week been embroiled in a public argument about whether the freeze to public sector pay rises should be axed following the Conservative Party’s failure to win a majority in last months’ election.
Senior ministers including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon have publicly urged May to consider scrapping the cap, while Chancellor Philip Hammond has taken the opposing view, saying the government must “hold its nerve” on austerity.
Asked about the cap, May claimed that Britain would end up in an economic crisis similar to that experienced by Greece if it followed Labour’s policies on the deficit.
“Let me remind the Right Hon Gentleman of what happens when you don’t deal with the deficit, it’s not a theoretical issue…in Greece where they haven’t dealt with the deficit, what did we see? Spending on the health service cut by 36% — that doesn’t help nurses or patients,” the prime minister told the Commons.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell today described the government as a “cabinet of chaos” after both May and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss failed to confirm to fellow MPs whether the pay cap will be ditched.
Responding to a question on public sector pay from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during Prime Minister’s Questions, May failed to confirm whether the scrap will be axed, instead emphasising the importance of tackling the deficit.
The prime minister told the Commons: “Our policy on public sector pay has always recognised we need to balance the need to be fair to public sector workers, to protect jobs in the public and be fair to those who pay for it — that is the balance we need to strike and we continue to assess that balance.”
Speaking in Parliament shortly after Prime Minister’s Questions, Truss also failed to clarify whether the cap will be axed, insisting:”We must be able to provide these services on a sustainable basis in the future.
“Our policy on public sector pay has always been designed to strike the right balance between pay for the public sector workers and taxpayers who pay for it.”
The cap was introduced by former prime minister David Cameron in 2010 and has resulted in public sector pay being frozen at one per cent rises for the last seven years.
May criticised for ‘preposterous’ Greece comparison
A senior Labour source today told Business Insider that May’s comparison was “preposterous”.
“It’s preposterous. The situation of Greece is tied up with the management of the Eurozone and the European banks. We’re not remotely in that situation. Our manifesto and policies were costed, unlike the government, and I think the IFS said that if our policies were implemented, at the end of the parliament we would more than balance the books on current spending.”
A senior government source defended May’s marks, claiming there is “a very real threat” that UK could turn into Greece “if Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party had the opportunity to impose its fiscal policies on the United Kingdom”
“Contrary to what he says, we have 13,000 more nurses working in the NHS today, compared to 2010” @theresa_may to @jeremycorbyn #pmqs pic.twitter.com/qEgRIKYfqo
— DailySunday Politics (@daily_politics) July 5, 2017