In Brief

How Starmer’s ‘fair one nation deal’ is whipping up a Conservative rebellion

Labour motion to standardise Covid financial support will divide ‘red wall’ Tory loyalties

A Labour motion to be voted on this afternoon appears to have been carefully crafted to put Conservative MPs in northern constituencies on the spot.

Keir Starmer’s “fair one nation deal” demands that Boris Johnson set a “clear and fair national criteria for financial support for jobs and businesses” in areas facing the toughest Covid restrictions, and that “people faced with hardship who are subject to the Job Retention Scheme extension will receive at least 80% of their previous incomes”.

Starmer yesterday accused the PM of treating local communities “with contempt”, after Johnson broke off talks with leaders in Greater Manchester and imposed the maximum Tier 3 limits on the region. 

Warning that “families and businesses will be deeply anxious that they might not be able to make ends meet under the government’s wholly inadequate proposals”, Starmer said “we need a fair one nation deal that can help us through the second wave”.

“I would urge all Conservative MPs, particularly those in areas of the country that are most affected by this, to vote with us tomorrow and force the government’s hand,” he added.

The Labour leader’s move is widely viewed as a bid to turn the screw on Conservative MPs in northern seats. Or to put that another way, “Starmer’s motion is a carefully crafted attempt to give red wall Tory MPs a world of pain”, says Politico London Playbook’s Alex Wickham.

As Wickham notes, the motion forces these Tories to choose “between rebelling against the government or explaining to their constituents why they aren’t voting for better and clearer financial support”.

His analysis is echoed by Politics.co.uk editor Ian Dunt, who tweeted that the motion is “designed to cause Tory MPs as much pain as humanely possible”. And HuffPost predicts that “some ‘red wall Tories’ could rebel and back the Labour motion” this afternoon.

An unnamed Labour official told Wickham that “this is one of those moments during a parliament people remember. Was the government or my MP on my side: yes or no? That is what Tory MPs should be thinking when the bell rings at 4pm today.”

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