Friends with benefits: Tories try to give DUP £410m without a vote – and offer protection from school meal cuts

Theresa May and Arlene Foster: Friends with benefits (ew!)

We were all revolted (weren’t we?) when the Democratic Unionists and the Tories had their little love-in last year, even though it was clear from the get-go that Arlene Foster wasn’t keen to get into bed with Theresa May.

(Who would be?)

Mrs May has had to spend the months between then and now shoring up the deal with extras – to the extent that, by today, we can justifiably describe the relationship of the two parties as that of “friends with benefits”.

We can see that relationship in action via two stories today (March 11). In the first, it seems Mrs May has decided to hand the DUP nearly half of the £1 billion promised in the “confidence and supply” deal – without going through the necessary Parliamentary scrutiny.

Labour has, of course, dug its heels in. Here‘s The Independent:

Labour has demanded a full Commons vote after the Government announced it will soon hand over £410m of the £1bn in its “cash for votes” deal with the Democratic Unionist Party.

There must be “scrutiny over these additional funds”, the Opposition said, after The Independent revealed the Commons will not have its say until long after the money has been allocated to Northern Ireland.

Owen Smith, the Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, welcomed the big spending increase, which was needed to ensure “vital public services continue”, including health and education.

But he added: “Questions must be raised about the decision to allocate £410m from the Tory-DUP confidence and supply deal when we had previously been assured that there would be scrutiny over these additional funds and a vote.”

It is unclear whether MPs will vote separately on the Northern Ireland cash, or whether it will be wrapped up in the overall “estimates” decision – and when that process will take place.

Not only that, but it seems Mrs May is protecting DUP-held constituencies in Northern Ireland from cuts in free school meals that she is inflicting on poor children in England. This is from the Huffington Post:

Labour is staging a last-gasp Parliamentary vote next week to block changes to universal credit benefit thresholds that could see up to a million English youngsters denied eligibility for a free hot lunch.

The cuts planned for England stand in sharp contrast to the situation in Northern Ireland, where children of the “working poor” will get stronger protection.

In legislation due before MPs on Tuesday, English families on universal credit will see the income threshold for free school meals slashed to £7,400 a year.

But in Northern Ireland, where the Government has just taken direct control of spending budgets, the same threshold for eligibility will be nearly double that rate, at £14,000.

Protection from a cut is still a de facto boost to funding. With more than 102,000 pupils in Northern Ireland eligible for free school meals which would otherwise cost around £2.30 per pupil (although admittedly that is the cost to parents, rather than the government), the total subsidy could be nearly £46 million a year.

That’s in addition to the £1 billion, of course.

Theresa May is happy to pay this money, if it keeps her and her Tories in power.

After all, it isn’t her money, is it?

It’s ours.

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4 thoughts on “Friends with benefits: Tories try to give DUP £410m without a vote – and offer protection from school meal cuts

  1. aunty1960

    I am all for Northern Ireland getting something and some recognition after decades and centuries of being seen as a blot and Irish Dunghead on the landscape of Britain

    Got gramps for both sides Irish, Northern Irish, Protestant and Catholic SO KNOW IT

    But a but bloody cheeky and out of order to offer such a bribe to one province, and lets be honest Westminster just sees the rest of Uk and provinces which are irritating and need watering and attention once in a while, say every 5 years

    But what a great insult to everyone else

    If DUP really are Protestant then they should pick up their Bible and read about not taking bribes to make decisions against equality and justice

    Exodus 23:8
    “You shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of the just.

    Yep I Know It.Got gangbanged by Born Agains in my 20s at college, so read the lot and supportive evidence commentaries and the nasty bits I know it and I can quote it.

    1. Tomas

      I am all for Northern ireland to get funding and to help those that need it most, but what bothered me was the way it was handled that 1 billion pounds seemed to have dropped from the governments magic money tree that Theresa May said she didn’t have.

Comments are closed.