The DUP’s £1bn funding deal with the Tories dominated the headlines not just in Northern Ireland yesterday, but in Great Britain as well.
Many of the national papers featured front-page pictures of Theresa May and Arlene Foster after the DUP leader reached an agreement to prop up a minority Conservative government.
The Daily Telegraph reported that the funding package could be “just the start”, adding that the DUP has hinted they will ask for more when the deal is renewed in two years time.
The Telegraph’s front-page cartoon coupled this story with news of the Royal Navy’s new £3bn warship, the HMS Queen Elizabeth. The cartoonist drew two figures on a ship’s deck, with one saying: “This isn’t very impressive. Think how many DUP votes we could have bought with the money.”
Describing the £1bn package as a “bonanza” in its front-page headline, the Guardian said the prime minister was now facing “fierce backlash” from politicians in Scotland, Wales and parts of England.
The paper also reported that critics felt the money was simply a “down payment”, adding that the DUP would seek further concessions in return for propping up the Tories further down the line.
The Guardian added that, in the wake of the DUP deal, political figures in the UK’s other devolved regions had now lined up to demand more money from the government.
The Times says Mrs May was accused of paying a “bung” to stay in office, with English voters “footing the bill”.
The paper reported that the promise of more funding, amounting to an extra £354 per person in Northern Ireland over two years, had “prompted anger” in Scotland and Wales.
The editorial in the Financial Times described the deal as “squalid” and says Mrs May is now a prime minister “held to ransom by the DUP” – but it goes on to add that she has come up with “the least worst option to stay in power”.
“Thanks a billion,” was the i’s front page headline, above a picture of Mrs Foster shaking hands with the PM outside 10 Downing Street.
The paper said DUP MPs will back the government on the Queen’s Speech, Budget and Brexit – but Labour claims the “shabby and reckless” agreement will put the peace process at risk.
As expected, the DUP-Tory deal was the only story in town here in Northern Ireland.
The Irish News reported that if the political talks at Stormont fail to save the power-sharing institutions, a “co-ordination committee” convened by the DUP and Conservatives will decide how the £1bn is spent.
The paper’s editorial said that the political pressure is now on Sinn Féin to return to the Stormont Executive though it does point out that it will not want to be seen to be “dancing to the DUP’s tune”.
The Belfast Telegraph quoted Stormont insiders saying that the prospects of a deal to rescue devolution have “dramatically improved” following the historic £1bn agreement.