Keir Starmer has asked Boris Johnson who more deserves a pay rise: “NHS nurses or Dominic Cummings?”
Starmer demanded MPs be allowed to vote on pay increases for NHS workers, as he accused Boris Johnson of “breaking promise after promise” and rewarding his former special adviser for failure.
The Labour leader tore into the Prime Minister in the Commons accusing the Tory leader of “ripping up” a pay deal for nurses in England and offering them a “mean” one per cent pay rise.
Starmer said: “Who does the Prime Minister think deserves a pay rise more, an NHS nurse or Dominic Cummings? They can afford to give Dominic Cummings a 40 per cent pay rise, and they can’t afford to reward the NHS properly.”
Starmer added that the nurses’ one per cent pay rise, compared to inflation at 1.7 per cent, represented a real-terms cut.
“If the Prime Minister doesn’t understand that, we really are in trouble.”
“The mask really is slipping, and we can see what the Conservative Party now stands for: cutting pay for nurses, putting taxes up for families.
Starmer challenged the PM to put the pay rise to a parliamentary vote but the Tory leader dodged away.
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Johnson replied: “The last time we put it to a vote, he voted against it. We’re increasing pay for nurses, we’re massively increasing our investment in the NHS.
“We’re steering a steady course, whereas he weaves and wobbles from one week to the next.”
Labour later pushed back on the Prime Minister’s claim that they had previously voted against the document outlining the 2.1 per cent pay increase.
Labour called out the PM for misleading parliament after Commons records show the NHS Funding Bill – which put spending increases into law – passed its second reading last year without a formal vote at all.
NHS pay in Scotland is set separately by the Scottish government and health unions have expressed their anger that a new pay deal for nurses and other NHS staff is being delayed until the summer.
Johnson signalled he might make a concession on pay in England after acknowledging his own personal debt to the NHS when he was struck down by coronavirus.
He said: “We owe a massive debt as a society and I personally to the nurses of our NHS and that is why we’ve asked the public sector pay review body exceptionally to look at their pay.”