Labour frontbenchers are set to force a Commons vote on whether transport secretary Chris Grayling should have his salary cut.
Jeremy Corbyn’s party will use an opposition day on Wednesday to table a “censure motion” calling for Grayling’s ministerial salary to be docked by £2,400 a year over his handling of the East Coast Mainline rail franchise.
The government announced last week that it would renationalise the line following a string of failures and shadow transport minister Andy McDonald accused Grayling of gifting operators Stagecoach and Virgin a “£2 billion bailout” after they neglected to run a proper service.
Labour’s motion - a little-used Parliamentary device which sources say seeks to test whether the Commons supports a government minister in carrying out their responsibilities - is to be tabled by Corbyn, McDonald and shadow cabinet members Peter Dowd, Rachel Maskell and Valerie Vaz.
It reads: “That this House censures the Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Member for Epsom and Ewell, for his handling of the East Coast franchise and his proposal to re-privatise the route rather than operate it as a public sector operation; and believes the government should reduce his ministerial salary by £2,400 per year.”
Party sources say they reached the £2,400 figure because it is the cost of an annual season ticket from Ashtead - in Grayling’s Epsom and Ewell constituency - to London.
Conservative MPs are expected to have to vote on the motion in order to demonstrate the government’s confidence in Grayling.
Censures have been used by politicians in the past as an expression of dissatisfaction with ministers. Theresa May herself tabled a similar motion while in opposition in 2002, against then-transport secretary Stephen Byers - which was backed by Grayling.
The current East Coast contract comes to an end next month and the government has promised passengers will not experience any changes to train services, the timetable will remain the same and that tickets purchased for future travel - including season tickets - will continue to be valid.