Tory cabinet split as Boris Johnson calls on Theresa May to give public sector workers a pay rise
Boris Johnson has deepened the split in Theresa May’s top team after putting pressure on the Prime Minister and Chancellor Philip Hammond to give public sector workers a pay rise.
A Government source said the Foreign Secretary wants a wage boost for public sector workers and believes the recommendations of independent pay review bodies which back increases should be followed.
Mr Johnson “strongly believes” a public sector pay rise can be done in a “responsible way” which will not put undue pressure on the public finances, the source said, with the Chancellor still aiming to wipe out the deficit by the middle of the next decade.
Pressure is mounting on the Prime Minister and Mr Hammond to relax austerity, with several Tory MPs calling for an end to the pay cap after the party disastrously lost its majority in the General Election to anti-austerity Labour, which has pledged to scrap the 1% ceiling.
Mr Johnson’s views go further than those stated by his old adversary and Cabinet colleague Michael Gove, who said the Government has “got to listen” to the pay review bodies, one of which has already recommended a pay rise for NHS workers this year.
The Government source said: “The Foreign Secretary supports the idea of public sector workers getting a better pay deal and believes the pay review recommendations are right.
“He also strongly believes the rises can be done in a responsible way and without causing fiscal pressures.”
Increasing public sector pay would boost the earnings of 5.1 million workers, including 1.6 million in the NHS and 1.5 million in public education, according to the Institute For Fiscal Studies (IFS). It is likely to cost billions of pounds.
In a Sunday broadcast interview, Mr Gove said it is the Government’s “collective view” to “respect the integrity” of pay review bodies and suggested he was “suppressing” his own opinion on austerity.
In March, the NHS pay review body highlighted “widespread concerns” about recruitment, retention and motivation among employers and staff and said “we are approaching the point when the current pay policy will require some modification, and greater flexibility, within the NHS”.