DUP MP warns Theresa May: 'We're no pushover'
Top DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson has issued a warning to Downing Street by insisting Ulster men and women are “no pushover”.
Attempts to thrash out a deal, which would see the DUP prop up the Conservatives on key legislative issues, are ongoing after the parties failed to reach an agreement ahead of the Queen’s Speech.
The DUP MP said the chances of reaching a deal by the end of next week were “very good”, adding that “the sooner the better” was his party’s view.
“I think the Prime Minister is moving the agreement process forward, she’s engaged now and we welcome that and I think that since that has happened we have been moving forward,” he told Radio 4's Today programme.
However citing the extensive experience Northern Ireland politicians have of holding talks with other parties, the Lagan Valley MP quipped: “We’ve been around in negotiations for a very long time, and I’ll say this about Ulstermen and Ulsterwomen, we’re no pushover”.
A senior DUP source said earlier this week that the party would not be “taken for granted” in reaching a “confidence-and-supply” deal, which would see their 10 MPs vote with the Tories on agreed areas.
Mr Donaldson also dismissed reports that the DUP were holding out for assurances of a £2bn grant for Northern Ireland as “nonsense”, although he confirmed the party would seek some guarantees.
“We’re talking funding across a range of issues. Certainly some money for health and education, and some money for our infrastructure; but the scale we’re talking about is nowhere near the figure that that’s being speculated in the media,” he added.
When asked whether the DUP would seek to halt some of the Conservatives’ austerity policies he added: “I think it will become evident when the agreement is published so I don’t want to pre-empt the outcome of that agreement, but we do want to see the UK benefit from what we’re doing and everyone in the UK.
“What certainly don’t want to see is pensioners and the more vulnerable in society being affected and we will be a voice for them.”
Mr Donaldson insisted that any deal with the UK government would not “drag the politics of Northern Ireland on to the national stage” in a way that would compromise the Good Friday Agreement.