Where did Theresa May find that billion pounds for the DUP?
'There is no magic money tree... unless we need it to be strong and stable'
It only took three weeks, but the Conservative Party finally announced it’s got enough MPs on its side to be able to form a government.
Prime Minister Theresa May has struck a deal with Northern Irish party, the DUP. They’ve promised to vote with her in Parliament (which means she’d have enough supporters to pass laws)... as long as she agrees to slip Northern Ireland a casual billion pounds extra in funding in return.
The DUP's pretty happy...
Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, says she’s delighted with the deal – and no wonder. The extra funding for Northern Ireland will be spent on things like roads, schools and healthcare. Just for context, Northern Ireland’s total budget in 2016-17 was £9.7 billion, so it's a lot of extra cash.
The DUP also convinced the Conservatives to scrap some of their planned cuts to public spending for the whole of the UK. Things like reducing the amount state pensions increase each year, and deciding who gets the Winter Fuel Allowance – an allowance for pensioners to help them cover the cost of heating – based on how rich the pensioner is (called means testing) now won't be carried out. She’s also said she’ll maintain defence spending, something the DUP feels pretty strongly about. and will keep up the amount of money spent on agriculture in Northern Ireland.
...But Scotland and Wales are pissed off
Northern Ireland is a ‘devolved’ part of the UK. Like Scotland and Wales, it receives money from the UK government and has a certain amount of power over how it spends it.
How much each devolved government gets depends on something called the Barnett formula. Normally, funding from the UK government in Westminster are allocated to each of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales according to the population size of each nation and which powers they have control of.
The decision to give extra money to Northern Ireland was made outside of this agreement, so the other devolved nations think it’s pretty unfair. The problem is, the Barnett formula isn’t actually law, so the government can give more to one nation if it wants.
Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones called the deal a "straight bung" (we googled it, a bung basically means a kickback or some kind of dodgy payment to get someone to do something) and said it "kills the idea of fair funding". The Scottish National Party's leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford, said Scotland should get "its fair share".
And people are wondering where the money’s all come from
As well as being annoyed that so much is being given to Northern Ireland, people are confused as to where the Conservative Party found all this money in the first place. Theresa May talks a lot about being responsible with the money the UK has, and over the past few years has made a big deal about saving money. During the election she criticised the Labour Party’s spending plans as irresponsible, and told a nurse on a BBC TV show that there was no to pay for a pay rise.
Lots of people have reminded Theresa May about this magic money tree thing when she managed to conjure up this money for the DUP. Including Ian Blackford, who said: "For years the Tories have been cutting budgets and services, but suddenly they have found a magic money tree to help them stay in power."
The deal will allow the Conservatives to form a government...
For the Conservatives, forming a “stable” government is the most important thing of all, and worth that extra billion.
The past three weeks have been a huge headache for Theresa May. In the general election her party, the Conservatives, lost a load of MPs rather than gaining them as everyone expected. Without the DUP's help, parliament would essentially be paralyzed – with no-one holding enough support to get anything done, from all the stuff in the Queen’s Speech, to managing the budget, to (oh yeah) Brexit.
... So it finally puts a bit of an end to this whole election thing