SNP warns May not to short-change Scotland in DUP agreement

The move is a new low for Westminster, says SNP MP Kirsty Blackman. Picture: PA
The move is a new low for Westminster, says SNP MP Kirsty Blackman. Picture: PA
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The SNP has accused the government of “pork-barrel politics” after it emerged additional funding for Northern Ireland agreed in exchange for the DUP’s support at Westminster is not likely to be matched in other parts of the UK.

A senior Conservative source confirmed more public money was being discussed in talks with the DUP, but suggested the Barnett Formula would not need to be used to calculate a proportional increase in funding for Scotland and Wales.

There have also been suggestions the devolution of corporation tax to Northern Ireland could be speeded up as part of the deal, prompting anger from Nationalists who have called for the Scottish Parliament to be given control of business tax receipts.

Northern Ireland already benefits from more public spending per head of population than any other part of the UK, with £10,983 spent per person in 2015-16, compared to £10,536 in Scotland.

Northern Ireland’s deficit at £10.1 billion is two thirds that of Scotland, despite the population being two thirds smaller.

“Any attempt to short- change Scotland will not be acceptable to SNP MPs or the Scottish Government,” said SNP deputy Westminster leader Kirsty Blackman. “This kind of pork-barrel politics is a new low for Westminster.”

“Funding across the UK is supposed to be determined by the Barnett Formula, and we cannot have the funding formula ripped up in order to dish out large chunks of cash to Northern Ireland, in a grubby deal with the DUP, without fair treatment across the board.

“At the same time suggestions that a corporation tax cut would be underwritten for Northern Ireland, while Scotland and Wales bear full responsibility for our tax decisions, would be out of order given the responsibility other parliaments rightly take.

“We need full transparency on the DUP deal and we need it ASAP.”

During First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood, Nicola Sturgeon accused the Conservatives of “putting the country in hock to the DUP” and putting the Northern Irish peace process at risk.

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives accused the First Minister of double standards, citing comments by Alex Salmond in 2014 who said the SNP could work with the DUP in the event of a hung parliament.

“Even for the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon’s attack on the Conservative talks with the DUP takes hypocrisy to new levels,” the spokesman said.