Theresa May yesterday spent £1 billion of taxpayers’ money on a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party to prop up her wobbly government.
A smiling Prime Minister welcomed Arlene Foster, the leader of the Northern Ireland party, to Downing Street this morning to shake hands on the agreement.
The headline sum is understood to be worth about £96 million for each of the 10 Northern Ireland MPs promising to back Mrs May in certain key votes.
But the full cost to UK taxpayers will be far greater because the deal also includes dropping Tory manifesto plans to means-test winter fuel payments to pensioners and scrap the “triple lock”, which ensures above-inflation state pension rises. In addition, some £183 million of farming subsidies for Ulster are also guaranteed after Brexit. The entire deal is due for renewal in two years.
Mrs Foster, with her Westminster group leader Nigel Dodds and chief whip Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, posed in triumph with Mrs May outside No 10 before going in to formalise the deal.
But ex-Tory chairman Chris Patten said the “toxic brand” of the DUP would taint Mrs May, while Mayor Sadiq Khan winced at “pork-barrel” politics that would cost Londoners in higher taxes.