UK News

British government under fire in Commons over DUP deal

Opposition MPs lined up to attack the arrangement during business, energy and industrial strategy questions
Elizabeth Arnold, Press Association Political Staff

Ministers have faced jibes in the Commons over the British prime minister's £1 billion deal with the Democratic Unionist Party to prop up her minority government.

Opposition MPs lined up to attack the arrangement during business, energy and industrial strategy questions, with Labour MP Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) claiming the money "found for the Northern Ireland powerhouse is at the expense of the Northern Powerhouse".

The deal struck in 10 Downing Street after negotiations stretching 18 days since the June 8 General Election also saw the Conservatives formally ditch plans to abolish the triple-lock protection for state pensions and means-test the winter fuel payment during this Parliament.

Shadow BEIS minister (industrial strategy) Chi Onwurah argued the government had refused to "invest in growth for good jobs across the country".

She said: "We are now the most unequal economy in Western Europe and if every region produced at the same rate per head as London, we would all be one third richer, instead working people haven't had a pay rise for seven years."

She called on the government to commit to matching Labour's proposals for investment for jobs laid out in its industrial strategy, asking: "Does this new found largesse end with the shores of Ulster?"

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary Greg Clark branded the remarks "disappointing" as he spoke about the city and growth deals in the North East.

He said: "In years past, the majority of jobs were created in London and the South East, that situation has been transformed and the North East of England has been one of the areas in the country that has created jobs at a more rapid rate than anywhere else."

Labour's Alex Norris (Nottingham North) drew cheers from the Opposition benches as he took a swipe at Theresa May's deal with the DUP.

He raised the issue of zero-hours contracts, stating: "Given the ease with which just yesterday a billion pounds was found to protect only one job in Westminster, could the minister please say what actions this Government is taking to encourage business to offer genuine financial and personal security to the nearly one million workers on zero-hours contracts."

Under a "confidence and supply" arrangement intended to last until 2022, the DUP guaranteed that its 10 MPs will vote with the government on the Queen's Speech, the Budget, and legislation relating to Brexit and national security.

Together with the 317 Tory MPs remaining after Mrs May's disastrous decision to call a snap election, this will allow the prime minister to pass the 326 figure required for an absolute majority in the House of Commons, ensuring her victory in key divisions and protecting her government from collapse.

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