Theresa May to seek backing of MPs for Queen’s Speech
The authority of Theresa May’s minority government will be tested on Thursday when MPs vote on the Queen’s Speech.
The Tories will seek parliamentary approval for their overall legislative programme after a week of debate.
With the backing of the Democratic Unionists, with whom she has formed a Commons pact, the prime minister is almost certain to win the votes.
The government saw off Labour calls to scrap the public sector pay cap on Wednesday by a margin of 14 votes.
However, several Conservative MPs have publicly called for the 1% limit on public sector pay rises to be lifted amid mixed signals from Downing Street as to whether it is being considered.
Votes on the Queen’s Speech establish whether a government commands the confidence of the House of Commons. If the Conservatives were to lose them, it could trigger another general election.
Mrs May fell eight seats short of an absolute majority at the general election, meaning she is reliant on the support of others to govern and get legislation through the House of Commons.
With the backing of the DUP’s 10 MPs – all of whom backed the Tories in Wednesday’s pay vote – the prime minister has a working majority of 13, but is facing calls to reach out to other parties on Brexit and other issues.
Jeremy Corbyn has said Mrs May’s plans are “in tatters” following her failure to win the election outright and that she has “no mandate” for further public spending cuts and a “race-to-the-bottom” exit from the EU.
Labour will seek to test the PM’s authority again on Thursday when it tables an amendment criticising what it says is the absence of measures to “reverse falling living standards” such as action on energy bills and wages.
On Brexit, it calls on the government to rule out leaving the EU without a deal, and to commit to a settlement which guarantees the existing rights of EU nationals in the UK and “delivers the exact same benefits the UK has as a member of the single market and customs union”.
Labour has accused the government of performing a “u-turn upon a u-turn” on public sector pay after a Downing Street spokesman initially indicated that there could be a review of the cap, in place since 2012, in this autumn’s Budget. But No 10 later insisted there had been no change in policy.
Several ministers have suggested they will listen to the concerns of MPs about the impact of continued austerity on the morale and recruitment of NHS workers in particular. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he would await the recommendations of the professional pay review bodies.
Mrs May, who is due to attend a meeting of fellow world leaders ahead of next week’s G20 summit, says the “confidence and supply” arrangement with the DUP brings stability to the government as Brexit talks unfold.
But former education secretary Nicky Morgan has cast doubt on her long-term future, telling the BBC’s Newsnight that the party could consider the question of succession as early as October 2018.
“Once that shape of Brexit is concluded, once those deals are very much on the table, the Conservative party must not miss the opportunity at that stage to think about who we want to be our future leader,” she said.