A Labour motion ‘calling on’ the government to cancel the cut passed by 253 votes to 0 – but because the vote was not legally binding, Boris Johnson will press ahead with it anyway
Image: Tim Merry)
MPs today voted in favour of cancelling Boris Johnson’s swingeing £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit.
A Labour motion that “called on” the government to halt the cut next month passed by 253 votes to 0 – after Tory MPs were told to sit it out.
But the Prime Minister is set to ignore the vote because it was not legally binding – and forge on with the cut anyway.
It comes after a furious debate and a protest by Universal Credit claimants, one of whom told the Mirror they would no longer be able to afford their painkillers.
Another claimant called Kieran, 26, who asked for us not to use her surname, added: “I won’t even be able to afford clean clothing to leave my house.
“Rishi Sunak should try and live a week in my shoes to understand what this uplift means to people like me. The Government is completely out of touch.”
The vote took place while the Prime Minister was reshuffling his Cabinet – a move Labour claimed showed his “warped priorities”.
The £20 “uplift” to Universal Credit has been in place since April 2020 but is now being removed, despite warnings from opposition parties, unions, landlords, debt charities, mortgage lenders and some Tory MPs.
The reshuffle may have helped keep some Tory rebels in line – but one, Peter Aldous, warned the government it would be wrong to “hastily remove” the £20 uplift.
He warned: “We have a duty and a responsibility to protect those on the lowest incomes and the most vulnerable in society.
“All the evidence shows that a sudden reduction in income of this magnitude will hit a lot of people very hard.”
Conservative MP John Stevenson said he would support Labour’s motion, adding: “We must remember that 40% of people on UC are, in fact, in work, 35% of those on UC are actually seeking work and probably half of those around on Universal Credit at present have never known anything other than the rate they’re presently receiving – they have, in reality, got used to having it.
“Imagine somebody on £30,000 a year being told that they’re having to take a £1,000 salary cut. They would not in the least bit be happy – and it’s even harder for those on less.”
Downing Street revealed it did not intend for Conservatives to vote against Labour’s pleas.
The Prime Minister’s Press Secretary said: “As a general rule we don’t vote on opposition day debates”.
This precedent was set during the days of Theresa May – when she lost humiliating but non-binding votes due to her slim majority in the Commons.
Asked if the government would carry out the wishes of the motion once it passed, the PM’s Press Secretary replied: “I think we’ve set out very clearly our plans around Universal Credit and our plan for jobs and encouraging a high-wage, high-skilled economy and we will stick to that position.”
Asked if that meant “no” she replied: “I think we’ve set this out very clearly in terms of our position.”
Today’s decision prompted furious recriminations from Labour, who tabled the desperate plea to stop the cut in a Commons debate and said its wishes should be carried out.
A Labour spokeswoman said: “This is a major cut that will affect millions of families across the country.
“We have given Tory MPs the chance to do the right thing. We would expect them to vote on a motion that will have a major impact on people’s lives.
“We think that if a motion is passed by the House, the House has indicated a clear will.
“If the Government is not willing to oppose it, they should stand with the Labour Party and cancel this cut that would affect millions of families”.
This breaking news story is being updated.