In the House of Commons today the Prime Minister Theresa May has been answering questions about the government’s Brexit negotiations with the European Council – and found herself having to answer what was virtually the same question twice.
The first came from Peter Bone (Conservative Wellingborough) who said ” I think the whole country will welcome the agreement that the Conservative and Unionist Party has done with the DUP. The Prime Minister in her statement referred to the Brexit dividend of over 10 billion pounds that we will save when we are not in the European superstate and I welcome the half-a-billion pounds a year going to Northern Ireland . Is that sort of the funding that the Prime Minister thinks will happen in the rest of the United Kingdom ?”
The Prime Minister replied. “What I can say to the honourable gentleman is that we do have to look at how we are going to use money that we will no longer be sending to the European Union. People voted for us not to be sending vast sums every year to the EU. We will have to look at how we will use that, and one of the aspects that we have already proposed here on this side of the house is this concept of a “Shared Prosperity Fund” which will be removing disparities between different parts of the UK“
However no sooner had Mrs May completed her answer to Peter Bone, than Stephen Doughty (Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth) stood up to ask an almost identical question.
He asked . “Did the Prime Minister have a chance to discuss transitional funding arrangements for Wales at the European Council because surely she is going to have to have something to say to the people of Wales who now feel they’re being treated like second class citizens in the United Kingdom but she can magic up billions [sic] for Northern Ireland but won’t give a guarantee for Wales on future funding?”
[In fact the deal with the DUP provides not “billions” – as Doughty wrongly alleged – but a total of 1 billion in extra funding to Northern Ireland over 2 years. It was Bone’s figures which were correct.]
The Prime Minister replied. “We’ve already been very clear on various aspects of funding from the European Union in relation to funding for farmers and guarantees that we’ve given over a period of years for that but we want to make sure that when we have money that comes back from the European Union that we’re no longer giving to the European Union that we are able to spend that money in a way that is as effective as possible in driving improvements here across the whole of the United Kingdom.”