Labour MP submits Queen's Speech amendment on NHS privatisation

John Mann respectfully regrets that "a bill to call a referendum on reversing NHS privatisation was not included in the Gracious Speech".

Inspired by the Tory EU rebels, the pugnacious Labour MP John Mann has submitted his own amendment to the Queen's Speech. The amendment is identical in wording to the Tories' but substitutes the words "EU referendum" for "a referendum on reversing NHS privatisation" (you can see both below). 

A rather lengthier amendment has been submitted by Green MP Caroline Lucas, requesting that the government "recognise that its programme fails to address either the worsening climate crisis or that austerity is failing; call on your Government to heed warnings that urgent and radical cuts in emissions are needed to prevent global temperature rises of 4℃ or more by the end of the century; urge your Government to recognise that, to fulfil its own commitment to keep warming below 2 degrees, around 80 per cent of known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground; further call on your Government to end austerity and instead reduce the deficit through an economic programme that prioritises investment in jobs, especially in labour-intensive green sectors and that pursues a goal of 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050, with policies for rapid deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies; and further call on your Government to lift the council borrowing cap to promote council house building, to tackle the cost of public transport starting with bringing the railways back into public ownership, to end cuts to welfare and take other steps to build a resilient and stable economy."

If the EU referendum amendment, which has been signed by 53 MPs, is selected for debate by the Speaker, a vote will be held on Wednesday evening. 

Demonstrators protest against the government's Health and Social Care Bill in central London, on January 31, 2011. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Can Philip Hammond save the Conservatives from public anger at their DUP deal?

The Chancellor has the wriggle room to get close to the DUP's spending increase – but emotion matters more than facts in politics.

The magic money tree exists, and it is growing in Northern Ireland. That’s the attack line that Labour will throw at Theresa May in the wake of her £1bn deal with the DUP to keep her party in office.

It’s worth noting that while £1bn is a big deal in terms of Northern Ireland’s budget – just a touch under £10bn in 2016/17 – as far as the total expenditure of the British government goes, it’s peanuts.

The British government spent £778bn last year – we’re talking about spending an amount of money in Northern Ireland over the course of two years that the NHS loses in pen theft over the course of one in England. To match the increase in relative terms, you’d be looking at a £35bn increase in spending.

But, of course, political arguments are about gut instinct rather than actual numbers. The perception that the streets of Antrim are being paved by gold while the public realm in England, Scotland and Wales falls into disrepair is a real danger to the Conservatives.

But the good news for them is that last year Philip Hammond tweaked his targets to give himself greater headroom in case of a Brexit shock. Now the Tories have experienced a shock of a different kind – a Corbyn shock. That shock was partly due to the Labour leader’s good campaign and May’s bad campaign, but it was also powered by anger at cuts to schools and anger among NHS workers at Jeremy Hunt’s stewardship of the NHS. Conservative MPs have already made it clear to May that the party must not go to the country again while defending cuts to school spending.

Hammond can get to slightly under that £35bn and still stick to his targets. That will mean that the DUP still get to rave about their higher-than-average increase, while avoiding another election in which cuts to schools are front-and-centre. But whether that deprives Labour of their “cuts for you, but not for them” attack line is another question entirely. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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