Monday, 26 June 2017

Linen-chest politics

The Americans would call Mrs May's bribe to the DUP to keep quiet during key votes "pork-barrel politics". Because of Ulster's best-known export, perhaps we should call it "linen-chest politics". If there were any justice, there would be a consequential annual top-up payment of £1.6bn to Wales, but of course Mrs May knows that her small band of Welsh MPs will never rebel. Realpolitik rules.

Government apologists will point to the Swansea City Deal of £1.3bn, but that money is spread over five years at least. Mrs May should immediately make some amends by insisting the GWR electrification should be wrenched back to its original timetable, increasing prosperity for the whole of South Wales, not just the Bay region.

The Barnett by-pass

The Scots seem to be rather worse done by than us in Wales in terms of top-ups. If they had an NI equivalent top-up outwith the Barnett formula, I calculate they are due £6bn over the two years that the agreement with the DUP is to run.   I have just heard Damian Green reeling off a list of Scottish city deals and contributions to arts projects which top up Barnett, but my mental arithmetic produces a total of £693m.

And what about the English regions? One can well imagine Tory MPs in the English south-west becoming restive. The Cornwall devolution deal may not be enough to satisfy them.

Updated 08:45 2017-06-27

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