The Conservatives’ £1bn deal with the Democratic Unionist Party is good for the whole of Britain because it keeps the Conservatives in power, Michael Gove has said.
The Cabinet minister, who played a leading role in the Brexit campaign, denied that the payment was a “bung” and said everyone would benefit from the extra cash for Northern Ireland because it meant Theresa May could continue to deliver a “secure and stable Government”.
“I think there is one only way in which we could have a secure Government in this country and that’s with Theresa May as Prime Minister,” he told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show.
“The alternative would have been to allow Jeremy Corbyn to take over, that would have meant higher taxes, and in due course our economy going over a cliff and less money for everyone.
“In that sense, making sure not just that Theresa is Prime Minister but that Philip is Chancellor of the Exchequer ensures that we can continue to pursue the policies that are generating growth and bearing down on the deficit.”
He argued that the payment was about “strengthening the whole United Kingdom”.
Mr Gove, who spent the last year on the backbenches but who was appointed as Environment Secretary after last month’s election, dismissed the suggestion that the deal was a “bung” to the hard-right protestant unionist party.
“I think that’s unfair, that’s unfair to the people of Northern Ireland and it’s also unfair to the way in which during this negotiation decisions were taken in the interests of everyone in the United Kingdom,” he said.
“Bung, the implication is, it implies that this money is somehow going to the DUP on their own, as though it were a partisan deal. It’s not – it’s about strengthening the whole United Kingdom and helping people in one of its most vulnerable areas.”
The Conservatives are governing as a minority but have secured support on supply and confidence – money bills and the Queen’s Speech – from the DUP in exchange for extra public spending in Northern Ireland and extra cash raising powers for the Northern Ireland executive.
The party has also pledged to abandon its manifesto policy of paring back pensioners benefits for older pensioners.
With support from the DUP the Government has a working majority of 13 when the Speaker is included and Sinn Fein continue not to take their seats. The Commons maths means that the Conservatives can also win any vote if the DUP abstain and do not vote against them.
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