Tories find extra cash to secure majority after election failure
THE TORIES have located a “magic money tree” to secure their hold on power through a billion-pound pact with the ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Labour grassroots campaign Momentum said yesterday.
DUP leader Arlene Foster said the deal — negotiated after the Tories lost their slim Commons majority in the general election — included £1 billion of extra funding for Northern Ireland over the next two years as well as “new flexibilities” on almost £500 million previously committed to the six counties.
Downing Street rejected calls for Scotland and Wales to receive a similar funding boost through the Barnett formula, the mechanism used to distribute Treasury funds to the devolved nations.
A Momentum spokesperson tweeted: “So the magic money tree does exist, but only to bribe the anti-abortion, anti-gay rights DUP into saving the Tories’ skin.
“Let’s not mince our words. The Tories have literally bribed their way into government.”
The “magic money tree” was a mantra in Tory attacks on Labour’s spending plans during the election campaign.
Scottish and Welsh leaders also reacted furiously to the deal announced yesterday.
Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones branded it “outrageous” and a “straight bung.”
He added: “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.”
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the agreement as “grubby.”
Mr Blackford added that it was “the first big test” for Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and her new MPs.
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: “If Ms Davidson has any influence in Downing Street at all, she will be demanding extra cash to reverse the spending cuts her government has inflicted on Scotland, aided and abetted by the SNP.”
Scottish STUC general secretary Grahame Smith pointed out that the government has always “pleaded poverty” as an excuse for not funding public services adequately.
“The question now becomes: What extra money will be found for health and education across the rest of the UK? It is not only Northern Ireland that needs or deserves a cash injection,” he added.