Gavin Williamson 'accuses Theresa May of ignoring pay rise demand for troops'

Posted On: 
29th July 2018

The Defence Secretary has reportedly sparked a fresh clash with Theresa May by accusing her of ignoring a pay boost demand for the armed forces.

Gavin Williamson has frequently clashed with Number 10 over defence spending
Credit: 
PA

Gavin Williamson is said to have told Number 10 and the Treasury that they made the "wrong ­decision" by failing to fully implement the recommendations of an independent pay review body when unveiling a batch of public sector pay hikes this week.

The Ministry of Defence on Tuesday announced plans to hand troops a 2% annual pay rise, plus a one-off payment of 0.9%, after years of rises capped at 1%.

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But the move fell short of an official recommendation by the armed forces pay review body, which urged a full 2.9% annual increase to base pay.

It means that almost a third of the increase unveiled this week will taper off after next year and will not boost pension pots for troops and other service personnel.

A letter from a senior MoD official to Number 10 - seen by the Sunday Telegraph - reveals Mr Williamson, who has frequently clashed with Downing Street and the Treasury over funding for the armed forces, was unhappy with the plan.

"As you will be aware, the Armed Forces Pay Review Body recommended a uniform 2.9% consolidated pay award to military personnel in full," the letter says.

"The Defence Secretary was, for the reasons set out in his letters of June 18, June 26 and July 19, strongly in favour of this.

"However, the Prime Minister and Chancellor have decided that the Armed Forces should receive a 2.0% consolidated pay rise and a 0.9% non-consolidated payment.

"The Defence Secretary continues to be of the view that this is the wrong ­decision. The Ministry of Defence will now undertake the requisite actions to formalise this decision and ensure that our hard-working Armed Forces receive their pay award as soon as ­possible."

A defence source told the paper that Mr Williamson had secured the armed forces "a better deal than was originally offered", with the Treasury initially floating a 1.5% increase.

The Sunday Telegraph also reports that Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, raised his own concerns about a 2% pay rise for police officers.

The police pay review body urged ministers to provide a 2% rise on top of a 1% award already on the cards, and Mr Javid is said to have lobbied for a full 3% increase.

Unveiling the award on Tuesday, he said: "I’ll continue to fight on behalf of police to ensure they have the resources they need to do their jobs effectively."

However, a senior government source said the two announcements had been signed off by Mr Williamson and Mr Javid respectively.

'I CAN BREAK HER'

The Defence Secretary sparked the fury of colleagues earlier this year when he reportedly threatened to bring down Mrs May over his call to increase defence spending.

The former chief whip was said to have told military chiefs: "I made her - and I can break her."

But a top Tory accused Mr Williamson of making a "weaselly" attack on the Prime Minister.

“Williamson's intemperate and frankly bizarre media posturing shows just how unsuited he is for any high office whatsoever," they told PoliticsHome.

“He's clearly overpromoted and thinks stamping his foot stops him from being found out. It doesn't. The longer he's at the MoD, the less chance he has of ever leading the Conservative party."