DUP’s Donaldson talks up Tory deal prospects as ‘very good’

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson

A senior Democratic Unionist MP has said the chances of reaching a deal with the Conservatives to prop up Theresa May’s minority government are “very good”.

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

Prime Minister Theresa May

Prime Minister Theresa May

However he denied reports it was seeking £1 billion for the health service with a further £1 billion 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.”

Sir Jeffrey 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, Sir Jeffrey said: “I think very good. The sooner the better as far as we are concerned.”