POLITICS

DUP Come To Theresa May's Rescue As Queen's Speech Squeaked Through Parliament

'The Conservatives survived by the skin of their teeth today.'

29/06/2017 18:40 BST | Updated 30/06/2017 12:55 BST

The DUP has saved Theresa May’s Government from collapse as the Queen’s Speech was finally voted through Parliament tonight. 

MPs voted for May’s programme of laws 323 votes to 309 - a majority of just 14.

May was at the Commons frontbench as the final result was read out.

Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party said“The Conservatives survived by the skin of their teeth today, supported by the DUP, but this is a government in chaos.

“The Conservatives are all over the place on Brexit, with ministers contradicting each other. On public sector pay, they say one thing and then do another, voting yesterday to continue the cutting the pay of our nurses, firefighters, police and other public sector workers. And today, they were forced to finally promise that women from Northern Ireland will no longer have to pay for abortions on the NHS under opposition and public pressure.

“This Government is out of control, with no mandate for continued cuts to our schools, hospitals, police and other vital public services or for a race-to-the-bottom Brexit. Labour will oppose these policies every step of the way. 

“Labour offers a clear alternative, laid out in our manifesto, which would put wealth, power and opportunity back in the hands of the many not the few.”

The division list shows 313 Tories were joined by nine of the 10 DUP MPs in supporting the Queen’s Speech.

Independent Lady Hermon, who represents the Northern Ireland constituency of North Down, also supported the Queen’s Speech.

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There were 257 Labour MPs who voted against it, along with 35 SNP, 12 Liberal Democrats, four Plaid Cymru and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.

The vote, however, came after a last-minute announcement on funding for women from Northern Ireland to get an abortion in England. 

Chancellor Philip Hammond was forced to confirm the cash would be made available amid growing pressure from MPs of all parties, underlining the struggle ahead for the Tories’ minority administration.

The money was pledged amid fears around 40 Tories would rebel and back Labour’s Stella Creasy’s amendment. Creasy withdrew the amendment after Hammond pledged the money. 

Strongly pro-remain MPs Ken Clarke and Anna Soubry voted with the government. 

Even serial rebel Tory Heidi Allen supported May, despite her “anger” at the DUP deal.

Allen said the Tories should have pushed ahead as a minority government expressing her “distaste” for using taxpayers’ funds to “garner political control”.

She said: “I must put on record my distaste for the use of public funds to garner political control.

“We should have run with a minority government and showed the country what mature, progressive politics looks like.”

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Stella Creasy put forward an amendment which left the Goverment worried about Tory rebels

 

Tory and DUP MPs also voted down a Labour amendment calling for an end to austerity. 

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell questioned why Chancellor Philip Hammond and Tory backbenchers were proud of their party’s record in office, adding they were also unable to house people adequately and protect youngsters and the elderly from poverty.

He said: “That’s a Government that doesn’t deserve to remain in office.”

Labour tabled an amendment saying it regrets the Queen’s Speech “fails to end austerity” in public services, fails to “reverse falling living standards” and does not “make society more equal”.

It addd no Brexit deal is the “very worst outcome” from talks with the EU and wants “the exact same benefits” the UK has as a member of the European single market and customs union.

The Opposition also reiterated its desire for the public sector pay cap to end, a proposal defeated by MPs during a separate vote on Wednesday, and called for the minimum wage to increase to £10 per hour by 2020.

Speaking in the Commons, McDonnell said the Government was promising “more of the same” following years of tax cuts which he said had helped the richest in society.

He said: “This could have been a Queen’s Speech that ended austerity once and for all - and it certainly doesn’t.

“So this is the record the Chancellor says he’s proud of.

“Is it a matter of pride for the Chancellor that nearly 1.25 million food parcels were handed out in food banks in the past year?”

 

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McDonnell added: “We have a Government that can’t feed its people, house its people adequately or protect our children and older people from poverty.

“It cannot ensure that when people go to work they earn enough to live on, it can’t maintain our basic public services. That’s a Government that doesn’t deserve to remain in office.”

Labour MP Chuka Umunna failed in his bid to force the Government to outline proposals for how Britain will remain in the European single market and customs union in the wake of the election delivering a hung parliament.

MPs defeated his amendment to the Queen’s Speech by 322 votes to 101, majority 221.

The former shadow business secretary had called on the Government to “get real” about Brexit as he urged ministers to stay inside the European single market.