Business leaders say the Westcountry will once again miss out in Theresa May’s £1billion DUP funding deal for Northern Ireland.
Cornwall Chamber of Commerce chief executive Kim Conchie has written an open letter to the county’s six Tory MPs calling on them to stand up for Cornwall while showcasing what its businesses can do in return to boost productivity, agriculture and hospitality.
He said: “This is a huge cock up by Theresa May and it was inevitable that Northern Ireland would get the money because they hold the balance of power.
“There will be other poor fringes of the UK feeling the same as we do because we are not getting our fair share. It is politics over economics and that is not the right way to prioritise spending.”
In the open letter, Mr Conchie states that businesses and government can work together ‘to move Cornwall quickly away from being the poor man of England, to becoming a world-leading innovation- and productivity-led regional economy that we and the rest of the UK are proud of.’
It adds: ” We can only achieve this if we work with you in a seamless fashion sharing successes and challenges on all sides; and if Cornwall and Scilly receives the Government support it needs in order to flourish.”
The Northern Ireland funding package is part of an agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party to prop up May’s minority Government.
Under a “supply and confidence” arrangement intended to last for the full Parliament, the DUP guarantees that its 10 MPs will vote with the Government on the Queen’s Speech, the Budget, and legislation relating to Brexit and national security.
Tim Jones, chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Business Council, said that the region is once again playing ‘Cinderella’ by being continually overlooked by government for vital infrastructure investment.
He said: “Under the Barnett formula, We routinely get far less than devolved government areas and we are way behind Scotland and Wales.
“Northern Ireland has had some serious issues to contend with but the government promised us that they would rebalance the economy. This move does nothing but continue the notion that we are cinderella in the South West.”
DUP leader Arlene Foster said she was “delighted” with a package which includes £1 billion of new funding for infrastructure and health spending, along with enhanced flexibility on almost £500 million of previously allocated cash.
But there were immediate demands for other parts of the UK to receive similar largesse, with Plaid Cymru saying Wales should be entitled to £1.7 billion on a population-weighted basis.
Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones described the payment as a ”straight bung to keep a weak Prime Minister and a faltering Government in office”.
He spoke to Wales Secretary Alun Cairns to urge him to secure additional funding for Wales, warning: “This is a short-term fix which will have far-reaching and destabilising consequences.”
The Scottish National Party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the party will fight to ensure Scotland gets “its fair share” under the Barnett formula, which governs how central funding is shared between the nations of the UK.
“After weeks of secret backroom negotiations, the Tories have now signed a grubby deal with the DUP,” said Mr Blackford.
“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.”
Downing Street said the Barnett formula does not apply to the new money as it is being provided as an addition to the Northern Ireland Executive’s block grant.
In a similar way, the formula did not apply to city deals in Scotland and Wales, or previous packages of support for Northern Ireland, a Number 10 source said.
Other features of the agreement include a shared commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence and guaranteed funding for agriculture in Northern Ireland after Brexit.
Source: Devon live