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DUP MP plays down reports of £2bn funding demand

2 min read

A DUP MP has batted away reports that his party are holding out for an extra £2bn for Northern Ireland in exchange for their support for the Tories.

Jeffrey Donaldson said claims that the party sought assurances of a £1bn boost for the NHS and infrastructure projects were “wide off the mark” and “wild speculation”, although he admitted the party were seeking “help” from the Treasury.

"We're talking to the Treasury and to the Government about, yes, investing in our infrastructure in Northern Ireland, because we've lagged behind the rest of the UK, not least due to 30 years of violence," he told BBC Northern Ireland.

The parties failed to thrash out a deal which would guarantee DUP support for key Tory legislation ahead of yesterday’s Queen’s speech, after talks broke down on Tuesday afternoon.

The Northern Irish unionists said the party would not be “taken for granted” and dismissed reports a “confidence-and-supply” deal, which would see the 10 DUP MPs vote with the Tories on agreed areas, could be announced by later today.

The BBC have reported that key economic measures including a reduction of corporation tax and the scrapping of air passenger duty are among the party’s list of demands, with DUP sources saying the latter had “stirred much resistance within the Treasury.”

Plans for investment in city deals in the province, which would hand local authorities greater powers, and a boost to UK defence spending were also cited by the broadcaster.

Yesterday the party's Westminster leader Nigel Dodds called for an “end to the dark tunnel of austerity”, while adding that Brexit would be a priority for the party over the course of the next parliament.

"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,” he said in the Commons.

"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."

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