Labour leadership contenders rush to reject 10% pay rise for MPs

Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall all insist it would be wrong to accept £7,000 rise when pay restraints are still imposed on rest of public sector

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Labour leadership contenders have been lining up to reject the proposed 10 per cent pay rise for MPs as they try to appeal to voters who have suffered years of wage restraints.

Andy Burnham was the first to confirm he would not accept the planned £7,000 salary increase, saying it "cannot be justified" and insisted he would turn it down or hand it to local charities.

He was joined by fellow leadership hopefuls Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper, who called on the Prime Minister to step in to stop the wage hike from going ahead.

The fourth candidate to take over from interim leader Harriet Harman is Mary Creagh, who has yet to say whether she would accept the rise.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) was given the power to decide MPs' pay, taking the decision away from MPs themselves, but with many public sector workers experiencing pay rises of just 1 per cent, their proposed increase from £67,070 to £74,000 is causing politicians a lot of difficulty.

It said the rise would go ahead at the end of the month unless "new and compelling evidence" emerged. The rise would be backdated to 8 May if approved.

Yesterday Downing Street confirmed that David Cameron would drop his formal opposition to the pay rise, despite previously strongly opposing the rise due to public sector austerity.

The Prime Minister's official spokeswoman said he "doesn't agree with the proposed increase," but said he would accept the pay increase.

A Labour party spokesman said it would "feel wrong" if Ipsa proposed an increase in pay for MPs "when so many people are struggling".

Taking to Twitter to announce his stance, Mr Burnham said:

I have always been clear that 10% pay rise for MPs cannot be justified. I won't accept it. Will turn down at source or give to local groups.

— Andy Burnham (@andyburnhammp) June 3, 2015

 

A spokesman for Ms Cooper said: "Yvette thinks its wrong to have 10% at a time when the deficit is still high and public services are about to be cut.

"She thinks IPSA should withdraw it and the Prime Minister should step in to prevent it. If it goes through she won't take it, but she thinks IPSA and the Prime Minister should sort it out before that."

Ms Kendall's team confirmed she would not accept the pay rise either, saying her position was unchanged from December 2013, when she said: “I oppose it, I'll try and change it, and if IPSA refuses, I won't take it.”

Mark Serwotka, the head of the Public and Commercial Services Union, said: “It would be grossly hypocritical for any MP who voted for years of pay cuts for public sector workers to accept a 10% increase for themselves.”

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