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DUP agrees £1.5bn deal to support Theresa May's Conservative government

By Claire Williamson

The DUP has agreed a £1.5bn deal to support Theresa May's minority Conservative government after two weeks of talks.

Theresa May and DUP leader Arlene Foster hailed the agreement between the two parties after they finalised the deal on Monday morning at Downing Street.

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

The Prime Minister said the DUP and the Tories "share many values" and the agreement was "a very good one" and that she looked forward to working with them.

The deal will deliver £1bn in added spending for Northern Ireland with enhanced budgetary flexibility over £500m already committed by Government.

The new money will be split with an allocation of £400m to infrastructure, £150m to broadband, £100m for health/education plus £200m to support the Northern Ireland Ireland Executive's delivery of its priority of health service transformation, £50m for mental health and £100m to deprived communities.

Outside Downing Street Mrs Foster said the money would be used to boost the region's economy and invest in new infrastructure, health, education and other sectors.

She added that the funding would "address the unique circumstances" of Northern Ireland and the impact on its people.

UK-wide, the pensions triple lock will also stay in place and there will be no means-testing of winter payments, under the arrangement.

The DUP and Conservatives have also agreed that a Nato commitment to spending 2% of GDP on the armed forces will be adhered to, and that the Armed Forces' covenant will be fully implemented in Northern Ireland.

Welcoming the new financial support Mrs Foster said: "Our aim in these negotiations has been to deliver for all the people of Northern Ireland. And the support measures which we are announcing will be to the benefit of all of our people.

"They will boost the economy and invest in new infrastructure, as well as investing in the future of our health and education sectors and a range of other measures.

"We welcome this new financial support of £1bn in the next two years as well as providing new flexibilities on almost £500m previously committed to Northern Ireland.

"As a consequence, spending power of almost £1.5bn will be available to address the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland and the effect these have had on its economy and its people."

The agreement was signed by Tory chief whip Gavin Williamson and the DUP's Sir Jeffrey Donaldson while Mrs May and Mrs Foster, along with Damian Green and Nigel Dodds, watched on.

The Prime Minister has made a sustained effort to woo the 10-strong bloc of DUP MPs ahead of crunch votes this week on the legislative package set out in the Queen’s Speech.

Speaking in Downing Street after the deal was signed Mrs May said: "As we set out at the beginning of the talks, we share many values in terms of wanting to see prosperity across the UK, the value of the union, the important bond between the different parts of the United Kingdom.

"We very much want to see that protected and enhanced and we also share the desire to ensure a strong government, able to put through its programme and provide for issues like the Brexit negotiations, but also national security issues.

"So the agreement we have come to is a very, very good one, and we look forward to working with you."

Mrs Foster said she would return to Northern Ireland for talks aimed at restoring a powersharing executive in Stormont.

Both sides have until the end of the week to do a deal.

"Now, more than ever, our political leaders both locally and nationally need to work together to find solutions for all of the people we serve," added Mrs Foster.

Additional Reporting PA

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