May faces backlash over DUP cash
Embattled UK Prime Minister Theresa May faces a backlash from politicians in Scotland, Wales and parts of England after completing a £1-billion deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to keep her minority Conservative party in power.
Arlene Foster’s DUP agreed to a confidence and supply arrangement in return for the additional funding for Northern Ireland alongside relaxed spending rules relating to a further £500 million previously committed.
While there is little detail, it is notable that several of the projects explicitly mentioned, such as the York Street Interchange Project, are in DUP-held constituencies.
Other commitments which might benefit nationalist or Catholic areas are much less defined. The £100-million commitment over five years to target “pockets of severe deprivation”, wider distribution of government jobs, more health funding and a promise to establish a limited number of “enterprise zones” all seem target non-DUP, nationalist voters.
May’s deal has been branded “a bung” and “shabby” by opposing parties.
The 10 DUP MPs will support May in key Commons votes like this week’s Queen’s Speech and on the budget and Brexit.
The opposition Labour Party said it would undermine trust in the UK government over Northern Ireland.
The Conservatives and the DUP claimed the deal made the restoration of the devolved power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland more likely. The government collapsed earlier this year over a dispute between the DUP and Sinn Fein about a failed energy scheme.
The support of the DUP, added to the 317 Conservative MPs, means May passes the 326 parliamentarians needed for a Commons majority under an arrangement planned to run until 2022.
May said the deal would “enable us to work together in the interests of the whole United Kingdom, give us the certainty we require as we embark on our departure from the European Union, and help us build a stronger and fairer society at home”.
Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones called the deal a “straight bung” and said it “kills the idea of fair funding” while Scottish National Party’s leader in the London Parliament Ian Blackford said Scotland should get “its fair share”.
“For years the Tories have been cutting budgets and services, but suddenly they have found a magic money tree to help them stay in power,” the MP said.
The Guardian reported that the DUP would be asking for more from the Conservatives to continue its support later in the parliament. In two years, the parties are reportedly to review the deal by “mutual consent”.
The Catholic, nationalist Falls Road, Belfast. Picture credit: Flickr