Government ‘called DUP’s bluff on Budget’

A UUP peer has said the government “called the DUP’s bluff” over what was a mere “empty threat”, after the party rowed back on its threat to vote down the Budget.

The DUP had previously said it was prepared to block the Budget and potentially topple Prime Minister Theresa May unless they received sufficient reassurances that there will be no Irish Sea border post-Brexit.

Sir Reg Empey, former Ulster Unionist leader

Sir Reg Empey, former Ulster Unionist leader

Yesterday Sammy Wilson told the News Letter the DUP now intends to back the Budget in the House of Commons tomorrow, adding that it would be “foolish and reckless” to do otherwise.

But he stressed that a roughly £1 billion boost in the Budget will not prevent the DUP pulling the plug on its deal to prop up the minority Tory government in the future if the prime minister breaches the party’s red lines on Brexit.

The East Antrim MP said: “If anyone thinks a few extra pounds is going to soften our attitude towards any Brexit deal which treats NI differently they are very mistaken ... the future of Northern Ireland within the UK is more important than a few bob in your pocket.”

Ex-UUP leader Lord Empey said the DUP is “retreating with their tail between their legs”.

Its warning that it might not back the Budget was “always an empty threat”, he said, adding: “You can only rattle your sabre so many times until someone calls your bluff.”

READ MORE: DUP will support Budget but vows: ‘We will not be bought’