DEBATE: Is the Tories’ £1bn deal with the Democratic Unionist Party a fair price to secure Brexit?
YES – Alex Deane, Conservative commentator.
Nobody pretends that this is ideal, but House of Commons arithmetic resulting from the election makes this agreement a necessity. Like any party, the Tories would rather go it alone, but it is in the interests of our country that the government gets on with governing. Both sides are agreed on Brexit, and the DUP is a reasonable party with which to do deals – hence Labour trying to form alliances with them during the 2010 and 2015 election processes. If the DUP is good enough to be in government in Northern Ireland, then it is good enough for this arrangement too. As to the amount, it’s hard to say how much of this money (if any) Northern Ireland wouldn’t have received anyway, as a region that needs funding. It’s a lot, but then again, Gordon Brown did a similar deal with the DUP for their votes on a single issue (42 day detention without charge). This is for the sake of a working government, and getting on with Brexit. It’s worth it.
NO – Sir Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham.
Theresa May’s hard Brexit is predicted to cost the Treasury around £60bn over a parliament. So the £1bn pounds of public money May has spent to buy 10 votes from the DUP is relatively small change – though it would, for instance, save the teacher that the typical school across the country is currently planning to lay off. That estimated £60bn is real. Due to lost trade from leaving the Single Market and Customs Union, Britain would suffer swingeing cuts to schools, hospitals, training, pensions – the lot. Just yesterday, banks were ordered to increase reserves, consumer confidence was shown to be plummeting, and 47 per cent of skilled EU workers were said to be considering leaving, all against a backdrop of May’s self-harming Brexit. There is no majority for May’s extreme EU plans, either in the Commons or the country. Support for free trade with Europe is overwhelming. Britain needs a government. What it doesn’t need is a grubby alliance to deliver Brexit paid for in sacked teachers and cancelled operations.