Jeffrey Donaldson hails 'very good' chance of deal to prop up Tory minority govt

Jeffrey Donaldson hails 'very good' chance of deal to prop up Tory minority govt

A senior DUP member has said the chances of reaching a deal with the Conservatives to prop up Theresa May's minority government are "very good".

Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP chief whip at Westminster, confirmed the party was seeking extra funding for Northern Ireland as part of the agreement.

However he denied reports it was seeking £1bn for the health service with a further £1bn of infrastructure.

"The figures that are being bandied about are way wide of the mark," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"What we are asking for is recognition by the Government that after 30 years of a very violent conflict in Northern Ireland when the capital resources were spent on security - on police stations, fortifications, military establishments - our infrastructure fell well behind the rest of the United Kingdom. So what we are asking for is some help to make up that deficit."

Mr Donaldson hinted the DUP had already secured concessions, with Conservative manifesto pledges to end the triple lock for pensioners and means testing for the winter fuel allowance being omitted from the Queen's Speech.

"We are interested in a deal that benefits the UK as a whole," he said.

"What we certainly don't want to see is pensioners and the more vulnerable being affected. If what we do benefits people across the United Kingdom then as a unionist party that is something we are proud of."

Asked about the chances of an agreement before next week's Commons vote on the Queen's Speech, Mr Donaldson said: "I think very good. The sooner the better as far as we are concerned."

British Cabinet Minister David Gauke made a joke at the expense of the DUP when he touched on concern among some Tories about becoming linked to the party because of its attitude to LGBT rights.

Referring to when he took over the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Mr Gauke said: "I thought I would do a little research into what people were saying about DWP, and I had a look and googled it, and I was a little surprised by what I saw - hugely expensive, difficult customers, very socially conservative, I realised that actually that was the DUP.

"DWP? DUP? They are not quite homophones."

Addressing a gathering of journalists at Westminster, Mr Gauke joked: "In terms of Northern Ireland, we are in discussions with the DUP as you well know - at least we were when I came in here."

The Work and Pensions Secretary added: "As far as I am concerned, it is important that we obtain some stability within our system."


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