DUP ‘seek £2bn from the Tories for NI’

Arlene Foster
Arlene Foster

A succession of reports have emerged claiming that the DUP is seeking a sum of £2billion in order to help the Conservative Party govern.

The BBC, Daily Telegraph, and Daily Mail have all reported that the money is to be split between health projects and infrastructure ones.

The BBC indicates that the £2bn would be divided equally between both these types of spending.

However, none of the reports has specified exactly what the health projects and infrastructure projects would be.

At present, the Northern Irish budget consists of roughly £9.6bn in day-to-day spending for departments, and roughly another 1bn in capital spending (that is, spending for building and infrastructure projects).

Health waiting lists in Northern Ireland are currently in very poor shape, with most targets missed – often by a considerable margin (READ MORE HERE).

When the News Letter contacted senior DUP figure Jeffrey Donaldson MP, he would only say that negotiations were “ongoing”.

Whilst citing the £2bn figure (neither it nor the other above reports revealed the sources of the figure), the BBC also quoted one of its own correspondents, Northern Ireland reporter Stephen Walker, as saying: “Sources close to the talks process say the plans to scrap air passenger have stirred much resistance within the Treasury.

“It is also understood the DUP has put forward plans for city deals for local councils in Northern Ireland, which will give local authorities greater economic powers.

“The party is also keen to see increases in defence spending, and wants to see Northern Ireland companies benefit from extra investment.

“The party has long campaigned for defence spending to be set at 2% of GDP, and increased budgets for the army, navy and air force have been raised in the discussions with Number 10.”

At time of writing, the first debate of the new Parliament is ongoing.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition, made reference to the Tories’ talks with the DUP, stating that it is possible that a “coalition” between the two right-wing parties may already be in “chaos”.

He also said it should be an “over-riding priority” to ensure that peace remains in Northern Ireland, under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Some political figures have suggested that the Good Friday Agreement means that the British and Irish governments must be neutral in its dealings with Northern Ireland.

However, David Trimble, one of the main architects of the Agreement, has rubbished the idea that a DUP-Tory deal would undermine the agreement – READ MORE HERE.