General Election

What would the DUP shopping list look like?

The DUP is expected to seek to keep farm subsidies at current EU levels

IN the run-up to the 2015 general election, the DUP believed it was in with a real chance of playing a 'kingmaker' role at Westminster.

Back then there was speculation of a hung parliament and the party was willing to do business with either David Cameron's Tory administration or Ed Miliband's Labour.

As it turned out, the Conservatives won a working majority of 12, negating the need for DUP support.

However, it has now unexpectedly found itself in the position of being able to extract a price for its support.

Alongside devolving the power to set a regional corporation tax rate, the Peter Robinson-led DUP in 2015 was seeking the abolishment of Air Passenger Duty (APD), which costs the Stormont administration around £90m a year to subsidise.

The DUP claimed – and still holds the view – that APD has a disproportionate impact on the regions farthest from the prosperous south east of England.

"The duty therefore harms Northern Ireland's business and tourism sectors," the 2015 manifesto stated.

The party's close relationship with the farming and agribusiness sectors means it likely to be seeking a post-Brexit continuation of the £350m subsidy regime currently administered through the EU.

Arlene Foster's party is also expected to favour a matching of £400m worth of EU structural funds, while its latest manifesto talks about introducing a capital investment fund for the development of new tourism products and a cut in VAT for tourism businesses.

Both the 2015 manifesto and the latest Westminster policy blueprint also seek a freeze and then a cut or abolishment of the TV licence and reform of the BBC.

Two years ago, the DUP called for an independent commission to conduct a review of how the BBC is structured and the services it provides.

"The aim of the commission should be to consider the role of the BBC as a public broadcaster, to examine alternative funding models, identify the opportunities for competitive tendering of key services and produce a plan that will either significantly reduce the licence fee or abolish it altogether," the manifesto said.

If anything, the DUP's stance is thought to have hardened over recent months following media coverage of the RHI scandal.

General Election

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