‘CASH-FOR-VOTES’ and ‘an outrageous straight bung’ were how SNP Leader in Westminster Ian Blackford and Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones described the Tory-DUP deal announced by Downing Street yesterday morning.
Eighteen days after the election resulted in a hung parliament, the deal was signed for £1.5bn to be spent over the next two years on infrastructure, health and education in Northern Ireland in return for the ten DUP MPs backing the Tories in key House of Commons votes.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn declared: ‘Austerity has failed. Cuts to vital public services must be halted right across the UK, not just in Northern Ireland. The government must immediately answer two questions. Where is the money for the Tory-DUP deal coming from? And, will all parts of the UK receive the much needed additional funding that Northern Ireland will get as part of the deal? This Tory-DUP deal is clearly not in the national interest but in May’s party’s interest to help her cling to power.’
The SNP’s Blackford made clear that the deal has major implications for Scotland and Wales, saying: ‘If you do the calculation based on what’s being invested in Northern Ireland, and of course I welcome investment in Northern Ireland, that’s not the issue, it has to be done under the Barnett Rules.
‘There ought to be consequentials and it would mean in this case, that if Scotland was to get its fair share then we’re talking about spending in Scotland of up to an additional £2.9 billion, which incidentally is equivalent to the cuts that we’re seeing in spending in Scotland over a ten-year period from this government, so it’s an absolute outrage.
‘The other thing I think is important is that David Mundell, the Secretary of State for Scotland, has said that he would insist that there were Barnett Consequentials. So there’s a real question for David Mundell and the Scottish Tory MPs. Who’s side are they on?’
Labour’s former Northern Ireland Secretary Lord Hain said it would be seen as ‘a very partisan and toxic deal by a toxic prime minister to keep herself in power at the expense of the rest of the United Kingdom’.
As part of the deal, the ‘military covenant’ will be implemented in full in the north of Ireland, meaning substantial financial and other benefits for UK military veterans. There was widespread interest in what would be Sinn Fein’s response to the deal, which had not yet been revealed yesterday afternoon.