Prime Minister Boris Johnson, ahead of his statement to the Commons then the country on new Covid restrictions, dropped a bomb on the Westminster village by making a firm intervention on the issue of a proposed pay rise for MPs.
His spokesperson said:
“The Prime Minister is responsible for ministerial salaries which he decided to freeze.
MPs’ salaries are obviously decided by an independent body but given the circumstances, the PM does not believe that MPs should be receiving a pay rise.”
On Wednesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to announce a three-year pay freeze for public sector workers in his Spending Review. MPs pay is decided by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) which Johnson said he believed had not made a final decision on the issue. It was heavily suggested that it would recommend an increase of £3,000 per year. However, the move drew heavy criticism coming as it does during a period when frontline public sector workers are being asked to accept a freeze in a bid to help alleviate the astronomical national debt caused by measures to soften the blow of Covid restrictions.
Because IPSA is an independent body, it is highly unusual for the Prime Minister to make a direct public intervention like this and seek to influence the process. MPs will have to vote to approve the raise and it is now possible Tory MPs will be instructed to vote against any proposed wage increase. Currently, the basic salary of an MP (excluding allowances ie, expenses) is £81,932.