Tory attacks DUP as MPs vote not to backdate law on party donors
A Tory MEP has accused the DUP of being "inconsistent" for supporting legislation on political donations that ensures the north is treated differently from Britain.
Charles Tannock's comments came as MPs yesterday voted not to backdate new rules about revealing party donors – meaning the source of a controversial £435,000 donation to the DUP that funded pro-Brexit advertising in England will remain under wraps.
A Conservative party three-line whip ensured the Transparency of Donations & Loans (NI Political Parties) Order 2018 passed by 308 votes to 261, meaning donors' names will soon be published but only backdated to July last year.
Mr Tannock told The Irish News that DUP support for the legislation "citing different laws covering Northern Ireland" was "inconsistent".
The London MEP said such an arrangement was "incompatible with a modern, transparent democracy".
"It is yet another example of the DUP wanting to be different from Great Britain when it suits them but totally rejecting a different arrangement of staying in the EU single market and customs union when it's in the interests of both the majority of the province that voted remain, as well as protecting the integrity of the all island economy and its inhabitants' security," he said.
Shadow secretary of state Owen Smith said it was "outrageous" that the British government was refusing to backdate the publication of donations "to protect the DUP".
"The Tories must explain why they are doing the DUP's dirty work by helping them avoid publishing the source of the funds received in the EU referendum," he said.
The DUP said last year that the £435,000 donation came from the Constitutional Research Council, a pro-union group, but it is not known exactly who contributed the money.
The party has insisted it complied with all regulations and there is no additional information provided to the Electoral Commission that it has not published.
During Alliance leader Naomi Long's time as an MP, she secured an amendment to the Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act which enabled the secretary of state to release donors' names, backdated to 2014.
However, it is understood that former secretary of state James Brokenshire chose not to include the amendment in the legislation passed yesterday.
"Alliance has led the way on donor transparency, but today's action ensures other parties can now hide their donors between 2014 and 2017," Mrs Long said last night.
"Others have talked about supporting donor transparency, with some even making commitments in various manifestos, but their actions have failed to live up to their pledges."