27 06 17 – UK Government-DUP “Confidence and Supply” Agreement

I would like to thank the First Minister, actually, for his response yesterday to the confidence and supply agreement. I thought his anger—his anger—at the agreement was palpable yesterday, and it was very clear, the dissatisfaction, not just from Wales but also from Scotland, at the fact that today you can have cash for votes. That’s what’s happened here. Some people in this Chamber might be more familiar with cash for questions; cash for votes is worse. Cash for votes is worse and that’s what we are talking about here.
Can I just say that the other point that I think is worth underlining is that this won’t be the end of it? This won’t be the end of it. They’ll be back for more. That’s one of the terrifying things about this. This is just the beginning of the negotiation. They’ve locked them in for a couple of years. If they can grab onto power for the five years that they are supposed to hold on to power, then we will be talking about even more funding that is being shoved down their throats. That is not acceptable. And who is this DUP that’s propping up a tottering Tory Government? Who are they? Well, they’ve got pretty questionable views on abortion and they’ve got unpalatable views on gay rights. But, more than anything else, do you know what worries me? It’s that they are politically and economically incompetent. They were brought down because they offered to pay people £160 to burn £100-worth of fuel. It’s a ridiculous situation. There was no upper limit to the amount that they could be paid and that’s what brought the situation to a head in Stormont. They’ve got into bed with people who are simply incompetent, and I think that should also be underlined.
But, more than that, there were successive Governments in this country who fought and worked tirelessly to achieve peace in Northern Ireland. The fact is that there is a resolution that is lodged in the United Nations that suggests that the United Kingdom Government should be an honest broker in the negotiations in Northern Ireland. That is simply not possible when the UK Tory Government is in bed with one of the parties. It is not possible to be an honest broker and I wonder how on earth that situation is going to play out.
Brexit—there’s a blank cheque on Brexit. They have literally said, ‘Anything you want. Anything you want on this, we will sign up to.’ The only point they’ve made is they want a soft border with Northern Ireland. Now, I welcome—I think it’s really important to have a soft border with Northern Ireland, but I am terribly concerned that we will see a hard border with Wales. Now, where are these Tory MPs from Wales, shouting and making sure that we don’t have a hard border if they’re having a soft border with Northern Ireland? I think people in Wales who are sick and deserve to be treated well by the NHS are the same kind of sick people who are sick in Northern Ireland; they deserve the same kind of services.

The statement suggests, finally, that it wants to strengthen and enhance the union. I believe that this agreement will drive a wedge through our country and our Celtic cousins, and I, personally, severely lament that fact.