Belfast Telegraph

Good Friday Agreement 'put in jeopardy' after deal with DUP, Labour claims

Labour has accused the Government of striking a "shabby and a reckless" deal with the Democratic Unionist Party which could put the peace process in Northern Ireland at risk.

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said it was "a disgrace" the Government had entered the agreement with the DUP's 10 MPs "just to prop up this dismal Prime Minister".

First Secretary of State Damian Green said the Conservatives had "a duty" to form a Government after the General Election, given the Tories were the largest party.

He also denied the extra £1 billion investment showed favouritism to Northern Ireland, saying other parts of the UK were due to benefit from increased funding in public services.

Speaking as Mr Green made a statement to MPs on the deal, Ms Thornberry said: "This is a shabby and a reckless deal which has taken the Government at least £1 billion to buy, and whose true cost for the future of peace in Northern Ireland could be infinitely higher.

"The Good Friday Agreement is rightly seen across the world as a model for other countries who are seeking to end conflict, but it is also fragile and relies above all on trust, good faith and the impartiality of the British Government.

"So for the Government to be putting such an agreement in jeopardy just to prop up this dismal Prime Minister is nothing short of a disgrace."

Ms Thornberry challenged ministers to publish legal advice about the deal's impact on the Good Friday Agreement, as well as how this deal would affect funding for other UK regions.

She also said the Government had ruled out changes to taxes on tourism last year, only to open these up to a review in Northern Ireland as part of its deal with the DUP.

The shadow foreign secretary challenged Mr Green on where the extra funding was coming from, saying: "During the election he was fond of telling interviewers that there was no magic money tree.

"So what has happened today? Has he found the key to the secret garden?

"Or is the truth that like everything else that this Government says and does, it can all be ditched if it helps them to hang onto power."

Mr Green said the deal with the DUP made it "more likely" that devolved government would be restored in Northern Ireland, with this funding going to all its communities.

He said only the Conservatives had "the ability and legitimacy to lead the Government our country needs", adding: "As the party with the most seats at the General Election, the Conservative Party had a duty to form a government.

"It is right that we talked to other parties to seek to ensure that the Government can provide the competence the country needs at this crucial time."

Mr Green said the Government remained "fully committed" to the Belfast Agreement and restoring devolved government at Stormont.

He added the Tories had invested more than £1 billion in city deals across Scotland and Wales, while the whole of the UK would benefit from billions of extra funding in the NHS and education.

Mr Green also confirmed there would be no change to the triple lock on pensions and winter fuel payments after talks with the DUP, despite pledges in the Tory manifesto.

Veteran SNP MP Pete Wishart said the agreement was a "pathetic, grubby little deal" which was designed to "prop up a Government without a majority and increasingly without any credibility whatsoever".

He said: "We now know that £1.5 billion is the price that this country will have to pay to keep the shambolic Government in power.

"This was a Government that warned of a coalition of chaos, but this is much, much worse than that, as these social Conservatives in the DUP know exactly the price from this Government."

Mr Wishart said the deal was "not subject to the normal allocation of funds across the UK", adding Scotland would get "nothing, zero, zilch out of this deal".

He said: "This is a huge test for these new Scottish Tory members of parliament: they either stand up for Scotland and Scotland's funding interests, or they stand behind this chaotic Government and their new best friends."

Mr Green said Mr Wishart was "so far wide of the mark that it's almost laughable" and gave examples of funding given to Scotland outside the Barnett formula.

"There is huge amounts of money going to Scotland outside the Barnett formula, as well as inside the Barnett formula, and if the SNP don't recognise this I suggest they go back to their constituencies and find out what's happening in Scotland," Mr Green said.

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