Theresa May Pays Massive Bribe Using Public Monies To Stay In Power
Theresa May just made the first installment on what may turn out to be a multi-billion pound bribe to remain Prime Minister. In a deal announced yesterday, The Tories formally entered into an agreement with the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in order to create a governing majority of just 13 votes. In return, the DUP extracted multiple concessions from May, including over 1 billion pounds in additional government spending for Northern Ireland.
The deal requires additional spending of 400 million pounds for infrastructure, 300 million for education and health, 150 million for improved broadband, and 100 million to tackle poverty. If only the Democrats could pull off a deal like that. The increased spending comes to over 500 pounds for every man, woman, and child in Northern Ireland. In addition, another 500 million pounds might also be available for Northern Ireland if May and the Tories decide to loosen restrictions on existing spending. That seems highly likely since the coalition can pretty much pass anything they want.
The DUP has also demanded and received the withdrawal of a number of Conservative election promises including the plan to means-test the winter fuel allotment and to abandon the “triple-lock” on pensions which guaranteed the government would use the highest of three measures, inflation, average earnings, or 2.5%, when calculating pension increases. In addition, Northern Ireland will be allowed to set its own corporate tax rate, most likely aligning it with Ireland itself.
The DUP has only committed to supporting the government on votes about finance, Brexit, and security. Its MPs will be free to vote on other matters any way they wish. And the agreement will be up for review in 2019.
The reaction from the other home countries, Scotland and Wales, was predictably negative as it was across the UK in general. In Wales, Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru’s leader, called the deal a “bribe” and its leader in Parliament said, “Any commitments for Northern Ireland should be matched for Wales. If reports that the DUP has secured a £1bn increase in public spending in Northern Ireland are realised, Wales’ population share would be around £1.7bn – a substantial boost to the Welsh economy that must be delivered.” Corwyn Jones, Welsh Labour’s leader was even harsher, labelling it “a straight bung to keep a weak Prime Minister and a faltering Government in office” and “outrageous that the Prime Minister believes she can secure her own political future by throwing money at Northern Ireland while completely ignoring the rest of the UK”. In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon called it a “grubby DUP deal to let [Theresa May] cling to power”.
Labour’s Shadow Chancellor echoed that sentiment, saying, “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, with some reports suggesting it could be as much as £2bn…Let’s call this grubby deal what it is, this is a straightforward political bribe to desperately prop up Theresa May in office.” As did outgoing Liberal Democrat leader, labelling it a “shoddy little deal..The nasty party is back, propped up by the DUP. While our schools are crumbling and our NHS is in crisis, Theresa May chooses to throw cash at ten MPs in a grubby attempt to keep her Cabinet squatting in No 10.” Lastly, the 11 year permanent secretary to the Treasury Nick Macpherson noted ominously, “£1bn for Ulster is just a downpayment. DUP will be back for more…again and again… They have previous in such matters.”
And predictably, things were not all smooth in Northern Ireland either. The new funding is contingent on Sinn Fein joining a new power-sharing agreement with the DUP in Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein’s leader Gerry Adams is keeping his options open, saying, “We may be able to say ‘well done Arlene [Foster, DUP leader]’, when we have the executive in place…There is work to be done by the DUP and only limited time to do this…the allocation of additional funds could help to ease the enormous pressure on our public services…The devil is in the detail”. He went on to criticize the deal for “continued Tory austerity and cuts to public services” and the “Tory Brexit which threatens the Good Friday Agreement”. He also added, “Sinn Fein will resolutely oppose any attempt to give preferential treatment to British forces, either in terms of legacy or the provision of public services.”
This is how low the Conservatives and Theresa May have fallen. May is now paying a 1.5 billion pound bribe and relying on Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein for an agreement to keep herself ensconced in Number 10. I’m thinking this deal will not allow the Conservatives to get very much accomplished. This whole arrangement doesn’t seem like it can last too long and it certainly won’t end well.