Gordon Brown squared up for a fight with MPs on Wednesday, telling them to reject the recommendations of an independent salary review and make do with a below-inflation pay rise.

The vote on pay scheduled for next week, which has exercised backbenchers unhappy with their £60,277 ($118,288) salary, will be a test of the government’s strategy of keeping public sector pay deals below 2 per cent.

The Senior Salaries Review Body said MPs should receive a 2.6 per cent rise this year. It recommended a £650 top-up for three consecutive years to make up for a series of below-inflation pay deals. But this was rejected by ministers, who said the pay rise should be staged and reduced to 1.9 per cent.

With 150 frontbench Labour MPs and the Tory and Liberal Democrat leadership all calling on MPs to show restraint, it is unlikely that the government will lose the vote on pay.

Meanwhile, thousands of police officers are planning to go ahead with a protest rally in London on Wednesday after talks between the Police Federation of England and Wales and Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, on Wednesday failed to secure an agreement over pay.

“We are in a stalemate situation,” said a federation offic­ial after Ms Smith refused to back down from the government’s refusal to honour an independent tribunal’s recommendation of 2.5 per cent from September 1 2007.

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