The DUP has said it will support a large group of rebel Tory MPs who have vowed to oppose an emergency budget which would be brought forward by Chancellor George Osborne if the UK votes to quit the EU.
In an extraordinary challenge to the Chancellor’s authority, 57 Conservative MPs have publicly committed to oppose the ‘austerity budget’ which Mr Osborne has said would be necessary if the UK was to vote to leave.
Mr Osborne warned that such a budget would involve tax rises to fill a £30 billion black hole that would emerge if the UK leaves the EU.
Prime Minister David Cameron endorsed the Chancellor’s warning in the Commons on Wednesday, but Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said it was “opportunistic” of pro-Brexit Tories to “fake” a “Damascene conversion” to the anti-austerity movement by vowing to oppose the austerity measures.
Nevertheless, Mr Corbyn made clear that Labour will vote against such a budget, meaning that it would face scant prospect of passing in the Commons.
For the most part, the DUP has had much warmer relations with the Government since last year’s election.
But on Wednesday the party’s’s most outspoken proponent of leaving the EU, East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson, accused the Chancellor of “openly blackmailing the public with the threat of a vindictive, tax raising, spending slashing budget if the vote does not go his way”.
In a pointedly personal attack on the Chancellor, the former Stormont Finance Minister claimed Mr Osborne was treating the British people “like the citizens of some third world state run by a petty tyrant instead of citizens of a free democracy”.
He said: “Since it was the Chancellor and his party which actually legislated for this referendum why did he not at that time warn that the consequences of allowing people a free vote on EU membership would be costly and wreck the economy?
“The fact is, he hailed it as a virtuous policy and the Prime Minister even said he would be canvassing for a Leave vote if the EU did not introduce the reforms which he wanted.
“Now that it appears that the masses are not going to do what the arrogant, out of touch, pro-European elite want he is going to punish us all with an emergency budget to deal with a downturn in the economy which hasn’t happened.
“The threat will never be delivered because he will never be able to get a majority to vote for it. The Labour Party and the SNP will not vote for it.
“The DUP will vigorously oppose it and over 50 of his own party have said they will vote against it.
“So voters can go to the polls knowing that the threat of higher taxes and less money for health, education and other areas of spending is nothing but bluster from the Bullington bully.”