Belfast Telegraph

Theresa May warned to end austerity if she wants support from DUP

Theresa May has been warned the DUP expects to see more money spent on health and education, with an end to the "dark tunnel of austerity".

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds also said the UK must deliver Brexit, telling the Commons people voted to leave the European single market and customs union at the 2016 EU referendum.

He added the DUP's focus will also be on strengthening the union, combating terrorism, keeping Northern Ireland "moving forward" and prosperity.

Mr Dodds said: "It is in the furtherance of those objectives that we will act and vote in this Parliament over the next five years."

Mrs May's minority administration is expected to require support from the 10 DUP MPs in order to govern and deliver on its policy pledges.

Mr Dodds made clear his party's intentions as he replied to the Queen's Speech.

The Belfast North MP said the economic outlook of Northern Ireland would be "easier to predict" with "stable" government both in Belfast and Westminster.

He told MPs: "The electorate sent a very clear message to politicians about austerity at the election, and I think that it's very clear since that election that people have to listen to what the people said."

Mr Dodds welcomed the election slogan of "prosperity not austerity" used by Tory former minister John Redwood.

He went on: "I'm glad the Chancellor said over the weekend he wasn't deaf to what was being said.

"For our part, on these benches, we again will work with government in the course of the next period in this Parliament to ensure we do deliver prosperity, do deliver greater spending on health and education, and that we do see an end to the dark tunnel of austerity.

"We're about strengthening the union, delivering Brexit, defending our country from threats of terrorism at home and abroad, creating prosperity, and keeping Northern Ireland moving forward.

"And it's in the furtherance of those objectives that we will act and vote in this Parliament over the next five years."

Addressing Brexit, Mr Dodds earlier said attempts to " undermine or subvert" the democratic vote in June 2016 would be "catastrophic".

He said he welcomed assurances from the UK and EU negotiators to find "sensible outcomes" to the challenges facing NI - including the border with the Republic of Ireland.

Mr Dodds went on: "We've heard some debate today about membership of the single market and the customs union, and we've heard talk about special status for Northern Ireland within the European Union.

"Let me make it very clear - I believe when people voted in the European Union referendum to leave the European Union that they voted to leave the single market and customs union.

"And I believe that Northern Ireland must, along with the rest of the United Kingdom, do likewise.

"We must not get into a situation where we have borders erected between the island of Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom."

He said a move to create borders would be "totally unacceptable", with "imaginative" ideas and flexibility needed to ensure there is an open border which is "as frictionless as possible".

On terrorism, Mr Dodds also told MPs: "Clearly combating the threats posed to innocent life, to our way of life by terrorism must be at the very top of the new Government's agenda.

"There's no greater responsibility of government than the protection of the lives of its citizens and the security and defence of the kingdom itself.

"We will, of course, on these benches be clear in our support for measures that make people safer, our United Kingdom more secure."

He also welcomed the commitment to deliver the Armed Forces Covenant across the UK.

Mr Dodds noted strengthening the union must be "one of the over-arching aims" of the Government.

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