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Tory deal with DUP includes infrastructure funding

Words: Laura Edgar
Theresa May and Arlene Foster / Crown Copyright

Prime Minister Theresa May and leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Arlene Foster have reached a deal that will see the party support the Conservative minority government and Northern Ireland receive additional infrastructure investment.

The deal comes nearly three weeks after the general election resulted in May losing her majority and a hung Parliament, as reported in The Planner.

Now, the 10 DUP MPs will support the Conservatives in key Commons decisions and votes.

A document released as part of the deal, UK Government financial support for Northern Ireland, states that the UK Government supports further cooperation with the Northern Ireland Executive on infrastructure development.

Therefore, it will “allocate £200 million per year for two years and with sufficient flexibility to the choice of project to ensure the Executive is able to deliver the York Street Interchange Project and other priorities”.

Despite the increase in availability of superfast broadband and mobile services, “challenges remain” in Northern Ireland, notes the document. In response, the UK Government will contribute £75 million each year for two years to help provide ultra-fast broadband for Northern Ireland.

In addition, the UK Government said it would work with the Executive and other stakeholders to work towards “a comprehensive and ambitious” set of city deals across Northern Ireland as well as work towards a “limited number of enterprise zones subject to proposals demonstrating good value for money.

Northern Ireland will also received further health and education funding.

According to the BBC, Downing Street has said the funding will not be subject to the Barnett formula, which is usually used to calculate public expenditure to be allocated to the devolved nations.

A source at Downing Street said the Barnett formula doesn’t apply to the money as it is being provided in addition the Executive’s block grant. Similarly, city deals in Scotland and Wales are subject to the Barnett formula.

Speaking to BBC News, Ian Blackford MP, leader of the SNP, said it is a “grubby deal”. He said the issue is not funding for Northern Ireland, but that the money has to be allocated under the Barnett rules. If this were the case, Scotland would receive an additional £2.9 billion.

Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones said the deal represents a “straight bung to keep a weak prime minister and a faltering government in office”.

“Only last week we were told that the priority was to ‘build a more united country, strengthening the social, economic and cultural bonds between England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales’. This deal flies in the face of that commitment and further weakens the UK, and as currently drafted all but kills the idea of fair funding for the nations and regions.”

Read more:

UK Government financial support for Northern Ireland (pdf)

The agreement signed between the Conservatives and the DUP (pdf)

Image credit | Crown Copyright