MPs oppose budget surplus plans

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with Leigh MP Andy Burnham
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with Leigh MP Andy Burnham

WIGAN borough MPs followed the party line as Labour suffered an “embarrassing” U-turn over economic policy.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell urged Labour MPs to oppose the Government’s updated Charter of Budget Responsibility last night, having previously said they would support the “meaningless” document.

A total of 21 Labour members defied the party whip by abstaining although Wigan’s Lisa Nandy and Leigh’s Andy Burnham were not among them.

Makerfield’s Yvonne Fovargue was one of 16 MPs understood to have had permission to stay away from the lobbies.

Former Cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw, who described Mr McDonnell’s stance as a “total shambles” following a stormy meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party on Monday, also abstained in the vote as did Liz Kendall, who ran against Mr Corbyn and Mr Burnham for the leadership.

Mr McDonnell, who was barracked by Tory MPs during his Commons speech, repeatedly acknowledged the U-turn was “embarrassing” as he set out the party’s new position on the public finances.

He told the Commons that he had not changed his mind on the “need to tackle the deficit” but on the “parliamentary tactics”.

George Osborne’s new charter commits the Government to running an overall budget surplus by 2019 and every year from then on in “normal” times. It was passed by 320 to 258, a majority of 62.