Following the Prime Minister’s disastrous decision to call a snap election, she has now, after 18 days of protracted negotiations with the Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, struck a deal which will see £1billion of new money and £500million of previously announced funds to be spent over the next two years in the province.
Together with the 317 Tory MPs remaining after the election, this will allow Mrs May to pass the 326 figure she needs for an absolute majority in the House of Commons. This equates to £100million for each of the DUP’s 10 votes in Parliament.
Not cash for honours but cash for votes.
The money will go to the Northern Ireland executive if devolved government is restored by the deadline of June 29, but the money will still remain available even if direct rule is reimposed.
The so-called “confidence and supply” arrangement means that the DUP will support the government on key votes such as the Queen’s Speech, Budgets as well as Brexit and security matters, but the Prime Minister will have to ditch controversial plans to abolish the triple lock protection for state pensions and also means testing winter fuel payments for older people across the country.
If the price of propping up this ramshackle Tory government is hundreds and hundreds of millions of pounds for Northern Ireland, it is of vital importance that all nations and regions of the UK also receive extra funding to end this miserable period of austerity.
Surely securing her government’s future by throwing money at one part of the UK the Prime Minster risks weakening the bonds that unite us all and disproves her supposed heart-felt concerns about the future of the Union.
There are also grave concerns that the alliance with the DUP risks the fragile peace process in Northern Ireland brought about after decades of conflict in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
The alliance jeopardises the UK government’s crucial role as an “honest broker” in Northern Ireland where power-sharing talks remain unresolved and they will not be seen to be impartial if they are locked into a parliamentary deal, at Westminster, with one of the Northern Ireland parties.
The cost of this grubby, unfair deal is high both politically and financially, and two questions need to be answered without hesitation by Mrs May: where is the money for the deal with the DUP coming from, and will all parts of the UK receive the much needed additional funding that Northern Ireland will get?
Once again, the Tories have put party political interest before national interest. They have conjured up huge sums of money to ensure they cling on to power whilst telling the public there is no money to properly fund our schools, our NHS and public service workers.
The Tory magic money tree is neither strong nor stable and has its roots planted firmly in contempt for ordinary people.