Michael Fallon: £1bn Tory-DUP pact a 'small price to pay' to prevent return to Troubles
The £1bn deal between Theresa May and the DUP is a “small price to pay” to prevent a return to brutal violence in Northern Ireland, Michael Fallon said today.
The Defence Secretary said the agreement to prop up a minority Conservative government was a long-needed funding boost to the province that suffered the Troubles for 30 years.
The pact announced yesterday was the culmination of two weeks of negotiations between the Tories and the Northern Irish unionists sparked by Mrs May losing her majority at the election.
Under the deal Northern Ireland will enjoy two £500m tranches over the next two years in return for the DUP’s 10 MPs backing the Government in key Commons votes.
Labour has branded the arrangement a “straight bung” and a “political bribe”, while Sinn Fein warned that it could wreck the Good Friday Agreement.
But Mr Fallon this morning argued it was “ridiculous” to call it a bung and said the cash would in fact ease tensions in the underfunded region.
“The money is not going to Arlene Foster; it’s not going to the DUP. It’s an investment in the whole province of Northern Ireland,” he told Radio 5Live.
“It’s right too to concentrate more resources on Northern Ireland because the last thing anybody wants is a reversion to the Troubles we had for over 30 years.”
He added: “All of us as taxpayers – whether we’re in wales Scotland or England – we all have an interest in Northern Ireland working its way back to the kind of more prosperous and safe future that we enjoy here and getting away from the Troubles that bedevilled Northern Ireland for 30 years.
“I think this is a small price to pay for that.”
But Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams last night said the pact “provides a blank cheque for a Tory Brexit which threatens the Good Friday Agreement”.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said: "The price of Theresa May's political weakness is now becoming clear.
“The same Conservative party which spent the recent election campaign saying there was no money available for the crisis in the NHS and schools has now found at least £1bn to buy a Parliamentary majority.
"Let’s call this grubby deal what it is: this is a straightforward political bribe to desperately prop up Theresa May in office. This Tory-DUP deal is clearly not in the national interest but in May's party's interest to help her cling to power."
Welsh and Scottish politicians were also angry that there would be no extra money for their countries.