THERESA MAY’S shabby arrangement with the Democratic Unionist Party reveals starkly that her election slogan “strong and stable in the national interest” translates into “wobbly and dependent in the Tory Party interest.”
The Prime Minister has been taken to the cleaners by the DUP whose demand that the £1 billion ransom — plus enhanced “flexibility” on how a previously allocated £500 million is spent — be payable within two years provides graphic testimony to her government’s long-term survival prospects.
First Secretary of State Damian Green pretends that waving a bag of swag will persuade Sinn Fein to drop its opposition to Arlene Foster’s return as Northern Ireland first minister, reminding the republican party that the deadline to agree a devolved administration is this Thursday.
According to the Good Friday Agreement, failure to meet this deadline could usher in direct rule from London or further elections in the six counties.
Although the DUP-Tory dirty deal provides for no DUP role in direct rule, the dependence of May’s government on Foster’s Orange army cannot be imagined away.
The Tory government’s already less than substantive neutrality is now shot to hell. It has no credibility.
Why should Sinn Fein jump at its command, help Foster back into office and, in so doing, assist May?
The Tory-DUP accommodation has outraged all other parties in the Westminster Parliament, in the Scottish and Welsh governments and in the English regions.
Whenever demands are raised for government expenditure on urgent needs, the Tories sneer that there is no “magic money tree.”
May used that very phrase to answer a nurse asking why NHS salaries could not be increased.
Yet it is now clear that this mythical tree can dispense billion-pound windfalls for political bribery that aren’t available to meet essential workers’ acute needs.
Both Tories and DUP claim that their deal will enable the May government to deliver on last year’s EU referendum result, but the issue of Britain leaving the EU is under no immediate threat.
Labour under Jeremy Corbyn, the only possible alternative government, has stressed that the vote to leave must be respected.
So what May and Foster have in mind is a parliamentary majority to support a particular basis for leaving, stressing continuation of the Tories’ EU-backed policies of cutting public expenditure and intensifying the capitalist austerity agenda set in train by the David Cameron-led 2010-2016 governments.
Foster will expect to bask in the adulation of senior citizens in Britain as well as in Northern Ireland because of DUP insistence on including retention of universal provision of winter fuel payments and the triple lock for state pension upgrades, but May’s minority government could never have pushed through her manifesto pledges to ditch these guarantees.
There is far less than meets the eye in these pensioner-friendly commitments designed to dazzle Foster’s working-class supporters.
DUP voters, who pride themselves on their attachment to the union with Britain, may well feel some unease over what looks suspiciously like a divide-and-rule tactic so typical of British colonialism.
The magic money tree is cascading cash to tackle deprivation and fund infrastructure, ultra-fast broadband, health and education projects — but only in Northern Ireland.
The price of this is 10 DUP MPs strolling into the lobbies with the Tories to put the boot into the British working class.
As Gerry Adams warned again yesterday, history shows that such intrigues rarely end well for Northern Ireland unionists.