Belfast Telegraph

Government under fire in Commons over DUP deal

Ministers have faced jibes in the Commons over the Prime Minister's £1 billion deal with the Democratic Unionist Party to prop up her minority Government.

Opposition MPs lined up to attack the arrangement during business, energy and industrial strategy questions, with Labour MP Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) claiming the money "found for the Northern Ireland powerhouse is at the expense of the Northern Powerhouse".

The deal struck in 10 Downing Street after negotiations stretching 18 days since the June 8 General Election also saw the Conservatives formally ditch plans to abolish the triple-lock protection for state pensions and means-test the winter fuel payment during this Parliament.

Shadow BEIS minister (industrial strategy) Chi Onwurah argued the Government had refused to "invest in growth for good jobs across the country".

She said: "We are now the most unequal economy in Western Europe and if every region produced at the same rate per head as London, we would all be one third richer, instead working people haven't had a pay rise for seven years."

She called on the Government to commit to matching Labour's proposals for investment for jobs laid out in its industrial strategy, asking: "Does this new found largesse end with the shores of Ulster?"

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary Greg Clark branded the remarks "disappointing" as he spoke about the city and growth deals in the North East.

He said: "In years past, the majority of jobs were created in London and the South East, that situation has been transformed and the North East of England has been one of the areas in the country that has created jobs at a more rapid rate than anywhere else."

Labour's Alex Norris (Nottingham North) drew cheers from the Opposition benches as he took a swipe at Theresa May's deal with the DUP.

He raised the issue of zero-hours contracts, stating: "Given the ease with which just yesterday a billion pounds was found to protect only one job in Westminster, could the minister please say what actions this Government is taking to encourage business to offer genuine financial and personal security to the nearly one million workers on zero-hours contracts."

Under a "confidence and supply" arrangement intended to last until 2022, the DUP guaranteed that its 10 MPs will vote with the Government on the Queen's Speech, the Budget, and legislation relating to Brexit and national security.

Together with the 317 Tory MPs remaining after Mrs May's disastrous decision to call a snap election, this will allow the Prime Minister to pass the 326 figure required for an absolute majority in the House of Commons, ensuring her victory in key divisions and protecting her Government from collapse.

Labour's Lucy Powell (Manchester Central) said current plans to cut police numbers in her area were "unsustainable levels of cuts" as she branded the DUP deal "grubby".

Speaking as MPs debated the Queen's Speech, she said: "The new threats that our country now faces we need these extra resources. And again the Tory arrogance and inflexibility during the campaign meant that police cuts were undoubtedly another vote loser.

"So what an irony it is that the Tories have now managed to find one billion from their magic money tree for their grubby deal with the DUP.

"Had they perhaps found that money a few weeks ago for schools and police perhaps they would almost certainly have had a majority here today, a bigger majority even here today and maybe they will finally now learn some of those lessons of that election."

Newly elected Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Brighton, Kemptown) spoke about school funding.

He said: "If money can be found for a sweet heart deal with Northern Ireland (DUP), a lifeline can be found for the very future of our schools.... I hope to be the grit between the Tory DUP alliance and their plans over Brexit which will harm my community."


From Belfast Telegraph