Northern Ireland’s DUP has officially signed a deal to keep Theresa May’s Tories in power for the five years of this Parliament.
There has been widespread speculation about just how much financial support Mrs May was forced to promise to Northern Ireland as the cost of the party’s support, with party members last week saying it would be about £2 billion.
This caused alarm in the Treasury and resentment within the Conservative Party and in the UK’s other devolved regions meaning the final sum is likely to be much less, perhaps closer to £750m to £1 billion.
It is understood to include increased spending commitments across a range of areas including:
+ £400m for Northern Ireland infrastructure
+ £150m for superfast broadband
+ £100m for immediate health and education pressures
+ £200m for health service transformation
+ £50m for mental health support
+£100m for “relieving deprivation”
Part of the deal is understood to have included a commitment to do everything reasonably possible to return to Stormont’s devolved power sharing executive, the deadline for which is this Thursday 29 June at 4.00 pm or direct rule from London is due to be re-imposed.
Newly elected Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, in his first visit to Downing Street a week ago, said PM Mrs May had promised the detail of the agreement will be published in full.
Speaking ahead of today’s meeting in 10 Downing Street earlier today Mrs Foster told Sky News: “We’re back in London again and my hope is that we will be able to finalise a deal between ourselves and the Conservative Party.
“I think that this agreement will bring the prospects of doing at deal at Stormont closer because this will have a positive impact in relation to Northern Ireland.
“I very much hope that this week we will be able to conclude on two agreements.”
Northern Ireland has been without its own devolved government since January.