Earlier today it was announced that the Tory-DUP deal had finally been settled, more than 2 and a half weeks after the election which saw Theresa May lose her majority. The Tories have decided to give Northern Ireland £1 billion, in exchange for the DUP’s support on matters, such as the ‘exit from the European Union’ and ‘national security’. Clearly Arlene Foster helped May find the ‘magic money tree’ that she had been looking for.
This ‘bribe’, in the words of Leanne Wood, has caused great controversy amongst many Welsh MPs due to its unfairness – as the country will likely not receive any (even slightly) similar investment. Carwyn Jones, the First Minister of Wales, noted:
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.
The frustration shown by Carwyn Jones was mirrored by Ian Blackford – the SNP leader in Westminster – who also believes the deal to be incredibly unjust.
SNP MPs will demand Scotland gets its fair share of any funding that is going to Northern Ireland – the Scottish Tory MPs should join us in standing up for Scotland and making sure that we get our fair share.
Whether May will decide to give into the demands of the Scottish and the Welsh MPs is yet to be seen. However, it would probably be too clairvoyant to suggest which decision would be less politically damaging to her.
The deal states that the DUP will support the Conservatives on a ‘case by case basis’ and that ‘both parties have agreed that there will be no change to the Pensions Triple Lock and the universal nature of the Winter Fuel Payment.’ This came as quite a shock to me. Two of the most controversial proposals in the Conservative manifesto have been chucked in the bin or – perhaps more accurately – onto number 10’s fire place. Personally, I am pleased that the Winter Fuel Allowance will remain universal and that the Triple Lock on pensions will be maintained, but it is certainly indicative of the Weakness of May’s government, that she is retreating on key policy areas, due to the demands of a small number of MPs that aren’t even in her own party.
Mr Barnier and the other EU negotiators must brimming at the sight of the Prime Minister’s apparent weakness – having been pushed about by just 10 DUP MPs. Arlene Foster forced a substantial amount from May, surely they could make her concede even more? This is certainly a far cry from the ‘strong and stable’ government and smart negotiating strategies that the Tories told us they would provide in the lead up to the election.
Also included in the deal was the issue of the future peace and stability of Northern Ireland, explaining that ‘the Conservative Party reiterates its steadfast support for the Belfast Agreement and its successors’. Considering, however, that I have already made my point on this in previous articles, I will restrain myself from doing so. It seems increasingly likely that the Tories will now be able to get the Queens Speech through Parliament, but how long Theresa May will keep her residence in number 10 is very hard to determine.