PMQs: Boris Johnson urged to explain why Dominic Cummings deserved a bumper pay rise but not NHS staff

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, Londo

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. - Credit: PA

Sir Keir Starmer has questioned whether Boris Johnson thinks NHS workers or Dominic Cummings are more deserving of a pay rise.

In this week's Prime Minister's Questions, Sir Keir asked: “Who does the prime minister think deserves a pay rise more, an NHS nurse or Dominic Cummings?”

The prime minister replied: “As I told (Daisy Cooper) from the Liberal Democrats earlier on, we owe a massive debt as a society and I personally to the nurses of our NHS.

“And that is why we’ve asked the public sector pay review body exceptionally to look at their pay.

“I want to stress, however, as the House knows, that starting salaries for nurses have gone up by 12.8% over the last three years and it is thanks to the package that this government has put in place that we now have 10,600 more nurses in our NHS than there were one year ago and 60,000 more in training.”

Johnson said the Conservatives were the “party of the NHS”.

Sir Keir replied: “Since 2010, nurses’ pay has fallen in real terms by more than £800”, adding: “He could afford to give Dominic Cummings a 40% pay rise, he could afford that, now he is asking NHS nurses to take a real-terms pay cut.

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“How on Earth does he justify that?”

Johnson replied: “I repeat the point that I have made, I believe that we all owe a massive debt to our nurses, indeed all our health care workers and our social care workers.”

He added: “This government, this party of the NHS, is on target to deliver 50,000 more nurses in our NHS.”

The row comes months after Cummings, who left Downing Street in November following a power struggle, received a £45,000 pay rise, taking his basic salary to between £140,000 to £144,999. 

Labour said the rise was an "insult" to millions of workers whose pay is being frozen due to the Covid crisis.

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