‘Throwing money at Northern Ireland’: UK govt stable, but row over May’s billion-pound deal
Former interlocutors as well as Conservative leaders were opposed to the deal, since it would jeopardise London’s neutral position in the conflict in Northern Ireland, as set out in the Good Friday Agreement, which has led to a period of peace.world Updated: Jun 26, 2017 21:03 IST
The minority Theresa May government on Monday agreed a coalition deal worth over 1 billion pounds with a Northern Ireland-based party, prompting furious accusations of throwing taxpayers’ money to stay in power.
The fine print of the deal with the Democratic Unionist Party suggests the actual figure promised may be closer to 2 billion pounds initially sought by its tough negotiators for health, education, infrastructure and other projects in the trouble-torn region.
The deal prompted fury from Wales and elsewhere. Carwyn Jones (Labour), First Minister in Wales, said: “Today’s deal represents a straight bung to keep a weak prime minister and a faltering government in office…It is outrageous that the prime minister believes she can secure her own political future by throwing money at Northern Ireland whilst completely ignoring the rest of the UK”.
“However, the UK government are not the only ones with questions to answer today. It appears that the DUP have given the Tories the go-ahead to legislate how they please on Brexit, which could include taking powers and resources away from the devolved administrations. This is a short-term fix which will have far-reaching and destabilising consequences”.
The ruling Conservative party won 318 seats in the 650-member House of Lords in the June 8 election, falling short of the required majority mark of 326; the DUP won 10 seats. The coalition deal with enable the government to get the Queen’s speech passed in parliament next week.
Former interlocutors as well as Conservative leaders were opposed to the deal, since it would jeopardise London’s neutral position in the conflict in Northern Ireland, as set out in the Good Friday Agreement, which has led to a period of peace.
Under the deal, the DUP agreed to support the May government on all matters of confidence, on the Queen’s speech, the budget, finance bills and other parliamentary measures. It also agreed to support the government on Brexit-related isues.
The Tory-DUP deal includes concessions on issues such as pensions and keeping defence spending at 2% of GDP. Talks are also on to restore the Northern Ireland assembly that was dissolved earlier this year.
May said after the deal document was signed in 10, Downing Street: “As we set out at the beginning of the talks, we share many values in terms of wanting to see prosperity across the UK, the value of the union, the important bond between the different parts of the United Kingdom”.
“We very much want to see that protected and enhanced and we also share the desire to ensure a strong government, able to put through its programme and provide for issues like the Brexit negotiations, but also national security issues”.
Arlene Foster, DUP leader, said: “We’re delighted that we have reached this agreement, which I think works, obviously, for national stability”.
“In terms of the Northern Ireland executive, of course we are determined to see it back in place as soon as possible as well, because we believe we need a strong voice for Northern Ireland when dealing not least with the Brexit issue”.
First Published: Jun 26, 2017 20:58 IST