Universal Credit row may cause Tory rebellion warns expert
Channel 4 News expert Paul McNamara has warned that some Conservative MPs may rebel should the Government ignore the vote to extend the uplift to Universal Credit. Monday’s vote in Parliament not to end the £20 Universal Credit increase saw Labour’s motion win by 278-0 after Boris Johnson ordered Tories to abstain. The result is not binding on the Government but has increased pressure on Mr Johnson after six Tories revolted to back Labour demands.
Mr McNamara said: “Pressure is now mounting not just from Labour, that is a given, but from the Government’s own backbenchers and specifically from the Northern Research Group.
“That is that group of MPs, predominately new MPs who won Labour Red Wall seats in 2019 and this is the biggest flexing of muscles we have seen from them.
“Two interventions in the last two days, we saw a letter on Friday and a statement last night because clearly they are not convinced that Rishi Sunak is going to keep this spending going.
“Part of the reason why not many of them have rebelled is because the Government has been on the offensive today letting people know that Rishi Sunak will be making a decision soon.”
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He added: “There will be some help but what isn’t clear is how much there will be or how long it will go on for.”
Since the vote was part of an opposition day debate, the vote is not binding and will not lead to a change in policy.
However, the vote has still piled pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson amid new findings that millions of families will be £1,000 a year worse off if the Government scraps the UC increase.
He is facing pressure from charities to maintain the uplift, with Action For Children saying the case against cutting it “couldn’t be clearer” with unemployment set to peak in the summer.
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It comes after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said families “needed certainty” incomes would be protected.
Work and Pensions Secretary Theresa Coffey has insisted that the Government had “consistently stepped up” to support low-income families and the most vulnerable in society throughout the pandemic.
Dominic Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that Chancellor Rishi Sunak would be taking a “holistic” approach to the support on offer in the Budget scheduled for 3 March.
He said: “We’ve put that support in place to make sure that the most vulnerable communities can be protected at this very difficult time.”
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Speaking to Sky News on Monday morning, the vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi turned the tables on Labour and accused them of trying to scrap Universal Credit entirely.
When pressed on the move to abstain in the vote, Mr Zahawi said: “We have put in £280bn to help the economy and families cope with this extraordinarily tough time.
“It’s unfortunate that Labour have chosen a political stunt.
“This debate today has no real impact on the outcome for those families, besides a little stunt for Labour.”
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