Belfast Telegraph

DUP denies reports party is 'to be handed millions' to back May's Brexit deal

Nigel Dodds speaks outside the Cabinet Office in London’s Whitehall yesterday
Nigel Dodds speaks outside the Cabinet Office in London’s Whitehall yesterday

The DUP has moved to squash speculation Northern Ireland could be offered extra cash by Theresa May's government in a bid to break the Brexit impasse.

Deputy leader Nigel Dodds MP said on Friday talks between the party and senior cabinet ministers had been "constructive" and that the Government was focused on resolving the Irish backstop issue.

He met with chancellor Philip Hammond, chief whip Julian Smith and Environment Secretary Michael Gove.

The presence of Mr Hammond prompted speculation that Northern Ireland could be given a further funding boost in exchange for the DUP supporting the Prime Minister's Brexit deal. 

However, Mr Dodds said "cash" was not discussed during the meetings.

Securing the support of the Northern Irish MPs is viewed as crucial to the government's hopes of winning the third vote on the Brexit withdrawal agreement next week.

On Saturday, a DUP spokesman said: “We are in discussions with the Government to ensure Northern Ireland is not separated out from the rest of the United Kingdom as we leave the European Union. Contrary to some reports we are not discussing cash.

"There are still issues to be addressed in our discussions.”

The DUP sceured more than £1billion in extra funding for the province in exchange for DUP MP's support in the Commons as part of a confidence and supply arrangement struck after the 2017 general election

That agreement comes to an end in June.

The Daily Telegraph reports ministers are "increasingly optimistic" that the DUP can be persuaded to back the deal.

The newspaper reports the negotiations are focused on winning legal reassurances that Northern Ireland would not diverge from the rest of the UK, in the event that the Irish backstop kicked in.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein have said the current agreement is the only way to avoid a "crash-out Brexit".

Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazzard said: "The reckless pursuit of a fantasy Brexit by the DUP and their Tory allies is totally out of step with the public.

"The DUP now need to take stock, reflect and listen to the genuine fears of the business community, the farming sector and many others who are worried about the dire consequences of a crash-out Brexit.

"The DUP is engaging in party politicking in their negotiations with the Tories over Brexit.

"They need to realise once and for all that there is only one deal on the table; the Withdrawal Agreement and the backstop it contains. That is the only way to avoid a disastrous crash-out Brexit."

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