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UK Finance Ministers join forces to fight further cuts

Finance ministers from the UK's three devolved administrations have pledged to fight Westminster austerity measures in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Stormont's Sinn Fein Finance Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir took part in talks in Cardiff yesterday with the Scottish Government Finance Secretary Derek Mackay and his Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford.

They are seeking a meeting with Chancellor George Osborne in a bid to avoid public spending cuts and to push the Government to reimburse them for any shortfall caused by the eventual withdrawal of EU funding.

They said: "We are determined to act to protect the interests of all our people, especially against further austerity policies that might be considered as a consequence of the referendum. This is particularly relevant in the context of the majority vote in both Scotland and the North of Ireland to remain within the EU."

Urging the Government to take the opportunity provided by the referendum to think again about economic and fiscal policy, they added: "It is essential we assure potential investors, the business community and those in receipt of European funding that we will endeavour to put in place the necessary measures to safeguard our interests. Certainty on future budgets will underpin those assurances."

They also sought clarification on alleged plans to cut some spending by £3.5bn in 2019-20.

Mr O Muilleoir said it was vital the interests of the people across the devolved administrations were protected and ministers worked together on areas of common interest. He added: "Together we are seeking assurances from the Government around budgets and that the levels of current significant EU investment will be sustained.

"Obviously, the potential economic impact on the border region in the North of Ireland, which has greatly benefited from European funding, is of particular concern."

Belfast Telegraph