EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Leaders of Scotland and Wales accused Prime Minister Theresa May of weakening the ties of the United Kingdom by “throwing money” at a Northern Irish party to prop up her minority government.
Scotland’s leader denounced as “grubby” the deal between May and the Democratic Unionist Party that will free 1 billion pounds in extra funding for Northern Ireland in return for the parliamentary support of the DUP, the British province’s biggest Protestant party.
While some in May’s Conservative Party are unhappy at Monday’s DUP deal, fearing it could imperil the 1998 peace settlement between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, leaders in Scotland and Wales asserted that it could compromise the make-up of the United Kingdom itself.
“Today’s deal represents a straight bung to keep a weak prime minister and a faltering government in office,” said Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones of the Labour party.
“It is outrageous that the prime minister believes she can secure her own political future by throwing money at Northern Ireland whilst completely ignoring the rest of the UK,” he said. “(It) flies in the face of the commitment to build a more united country and further weakens the UK.”
Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “In concluding this grubby, shameless deal, the Tories (Conservatives) have shown that they will stop at nothing to hold on to power – even sacrificing the very basic principles of devolution.
“This deal also raises very serious questions for (May’s) Scottish Secretary,” said Sturgeon, head of the Scottish National Party (SNP). “At the weekend, David Mundell was indicating that he would not allow a situation where Northern Ireland received extra funding while Scotland did not.”
Mundell said last week that any funding for Northern Ireland should adhere to rules about funding for Wales and Scotland too.
The Scottish Labour party also called for equal funding commitments for Scotland from the British government to end public spending cuts.
“By attempting to secure her future by throwing money at one part of the UK, the prime minister’s deal risks weakening the bonds that unite the UK – and shows how empty her rhetoric is about the future of the (UK),” Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said.
Reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary; editing by Mark Heinrich