Conservative-DUP agreement due 'next week'
15 June 2017 Political News
A Conservative-DUP confidence and supply deal is expected to be finalised and announced on either Tuesday or Thursday next week, Sky News understands.
The DUP’s consent to the announcement of a date for a delayed Queen’s Speech is a sign that they have agreed the first part of this deal.
This will give Theresa May’s Government the initial “confidence” it needs to pass the Queen’s Speech programme.
It could have been delayed into the week after next.
But the DUP has agreed to a “revised Queen’s Speech” to go ahead on Wednesday – two days later than previously planned.
It has not yet finalised the “supply” part of the deal – both parties are still working out the level and detail of ongoing support that the DUP will provide for a range of Government priorities and legislation
A deal might have been announced on Wednesday but it was felt important not to do so immediately after the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
Sources have told Sky the deal was “95% done”.
It has now been confirmed that the deal is with the Treasury, who are examining the detail of the fiscal implications of some upfront spending agreed for Northern Ireland as part of the deal.
In particular, there is some debate over whether the extra spending arising from this deal will result in extra spending in other UK nations, that it is “Barnettable”.
There is some talk of “staggered Barnett consequentials” suggesting a muddle on this issue, which is sure to enrage the Scottish Government.
The Barnett formula is a mechanism that to automatically adjust the amounts of public expenditure allocated to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to reflect changes in spending in the rest of the UK.
Northern Ireland already gets the highest identifiable per capita public spending of any UK nation – nearly £11,000 per person versus £8,800 in England.
In fact there are two separate documents being negotiated.
The short revised Queen’s Speech has been agreed. The other – an announcement of a range of financial changes and investments – is still to be finalised, and it will now be done under the gaze of the Treasury.
The PM has been meeting with the leaders of other Northern Ireland parties in an attempt to encourage them to restart power sharing at Stormont.
Most of the parties expressed clear disquiet at the proposed deal between the Conservatives and the DUP, which might also complicate matters at the last minute.
Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said: “We have to be practical about these things. In reality, the Government is here simply because the DUP allow it to be so.
“In terms of neutrality, politically I think it is compromised by the fact that they are now in coalition with one party.
“We are willing to continue to work in good faith on the basis that we think the restoration of devolution is perhaps the best way to ensure that the people of Northern Ireland are protected from the worst effects of that arrangement.”
Different DUP sources say different things about the approach to Brexit.
Some argue that they are completely comfortable with the idea of leaving both the single market and customs union.
Senior figures believe that the EU will feel obliged to guarantee a softer border with Ireland, and that the Republic is the European Union negotiator’s Achilles Heel.
Other DUP sources stress a more “practical Brexit” that might permit prolonged membership of the Customs Union.
DUP Leader Arlene Foster is known to be close to the new Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.