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Theresa May’s confidence and supply deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has been thrown into turmoil today as reports emerge suggesting the DUP will vote with Labour in blocking Tory plans to hike tuition fees to almost £10,000 later this afternoon.
As well as voting against Tory plans to raise tuition fees yet further, the DUP’s 10 MPs are also set to vote against the government in order to to give nurses a “fair pay rise” and end the public sector pay cap – a move that throws the stability of the £1Bn Tory/DUP alliance into serious question.
A DUP source told the Guardian that because they believe the two opposition day motion votes will be non-binding, they will fall outside the DUP’s confidence and supply agreement with Theresa May’s party.
However, the DUP’s obviously anti-Tory stance on tuition fees and public sector pay looks likely to enrage senior Tory figures who will now be extremely wary of tabling formal bills on these two deeply divisive issues.
The Conservatives will vote against both motions, tabled by Labour to provoke exactly this type of divide between the DUP and the government.
BREAK: DUP plans to vote with Labour on NHS pay and tuition fees during debates this afternoon – sky sources
— Kay Burley (@KayBurley) September 13, 2017
The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told Parliament on Wednesday that Labour’s bill calling for an end to the 1% public sector pay freeze, and a ‘fair pay rise for NHS workers’ was “bogus”
Despite voting against the government on these two prominent issues, DUP MP for Lagan Valley, Jeffrey Donaldson, denied that supporting Labour on tuition fees and NHS wages put the government’s confidence and supply agreement in jeopardy, stating:
We made clear to her majesty’s government on issues like this we reserve the right to vote on the basis of our own manifesto. This doesn’t threaten the deal at all.
The DUP’s election manifesto made clear its anti-Tory position on both tuition fees and public sector pay, and their decision to vote with Labour on both of today’s bills reflects this.
The DUP’s decision to side with Labour on both of these bills will almost certainly mean a defeat for the government, but Tory MPs are being advised to abstain in an attempt to lessen the impact of any defeat.
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