Sammy Wilson has called on a “naive” secretary of state to be wary of Sinn Fein stalling on a new Executive, in the hope of scuppering the distribution of the government’s £1 billion funding boost.
The DUP MP said it would suit Sinn Fein’s agenda to prevent increased public spending in Northern Ireland – and that James Brokenshire should stop “pussyfooting around” and get on with honouring the financial agreement secured last month.
“I am absolutely convinced they would be quite happy to find that there were ways of stopping that money being spent this year. It suits them to have austerity,” Mr Wilson told the News Letter.
“Naivety is all I can put it down to. It’s all a bit cack-handed.”
Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Brokenshire suggested the £1bn was “for a new Executive to see that we get local politicians making decisions,” but added: “There will be a whole host of decisions to take should that not happen.”
Mr Wilson said calls for the secretary of state to clarify his position were meaningless as the original deal still stood.
Last night the Conservatives issued a statement in an attempt to clarify the situation.
It said: “We want the additional funding identified in this agreement to go to a new Executive. However, if despite our collective efforts it proves impossible to re-establish the Executive, the Conservative Party in signing this agreement has recognised the case for the higher funding Northern Ireland needs.”
On Wednesday, Mr Brokenshire allocated an additional £131m for health and education in Northern Ireland with his second intervention in Stormont’s financial affairs in the absence of a functioning Executive.
Mr Wilson said his party had a clear message for the secretary of state.
“We are just saying ‘bring this to a head’. If you are not getting any indications from Sinn Fein that they are prepared to have an Executive up and running quickly – or if they are going to stick to these mad conditions they are demanding, which they know nobody is going to accede to – then introduce direct rule.
“He is trying to play what he thinks is a clever game, where he thinks that he can use this money as a way of enticing Sinn Fein into an Executive,” Mr Wilson added.