A ROW broke out last night over accusations from Labour that the SNP have signed up to Tory austerity plans as MPs debated George Osborne’s Charter of Budget Responsibility.
With Jeremy Corbyn facing a rebellion from his own backbenches over his decision to reject voting for the Charter which underpins Conservative austerity policies, it was also to be opposed by the SNP.
The government won the vote by 320 votes to 258 meaning that many Labour MPs sat on their hands and abstained refusing to back the party leadership.
It is estimated that 45 Labour MPs stayed away from the Commons lobbies but around 15 have permission under the normal rules.
However, with no significant number voting with the Tories the rebellion was much lower than had been feared by the leadership.
One of the leading critics of Mr Corbyn in the Labour ranks, John Mann, a member of the treasury committee, said he would back his leader and vote against the charter, which he described as a “trap to try and entice” Labour into stupidity.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell claimed that the SNP’s Scottish Government fiscal mandate published this month which aims to balance the books by 2020 means that the Nationalists have now agreed to the austerity plans despite fighting an election campaign promising to oppose them and describing Labour as “red Tories” for agreeing to balance the books.
He asked SNP Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie: “Isn’t it true that the Scottish Government’s fiscal mandate is the same as the Charter?”
Responding, Mr Hosie said: “I say this gently, we voted against the Charter [before the election] and his party didn’t.
“I am glad you have changed your position, let’s focus on the present.”
A Scottish Government spokesman described the Labour’s claims as “utterly incoherent”.
He added: “The SNP and Scottish Government have been absolutely consistent in opposing austerity – unlike Labour’s shambolic performance which has this week descended into farce.”
Earlier, Mr McDonnell said he was opposing the Charter because the “economic narrative in this country has been captured by the right.”
He added: “Focusing on the deficit ignores the underlying problems of our unreformed economy.”