Northern Ireland

DUP MPs 'worth more than Ronaldo', Commons told

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionGlasgow MP Alison Thewliss questioned the £1bn deal signed between the Tories and the DUP

Each Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP is now "worth more" than Cristiano Ronaldo, a Scottish National Party MP has told the House of Commons.

Alison Thewliss made the remark as she questioned the Tory government about the £1bn deal they signed with the DUP.

But her comparison of the 10 DUP MPs with the world's third most expensive footballer led to roars of laughter.

"We're now in the slightly odd position where each DUP MP is worth more than Ronaldo," Ms Thewliss said.

"I don't know what it says about their footballing skills."

Under the deal announced on Monday, DUP MPs will support the government in exchange for extra public spending in Northern Ireland.

Ms Thewliss wanted to know how the Conservative government could act with impartiality between unionists and Irish nationalists in Northern Ireland, given its dependence on the support of the DUP.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Manchester United sold Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid in 2009 for £80m

The Glasgow Central MP addressed her concerns to Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire during the first Northern Ireland Questions session of the new parliament.

"Does the secretary of state agree with Jonathan Powell that is it now impossible for the UK government to be even-handed in Northern Ireland?" she asked.

Mr Powell was intimately involved in the Northern Ireland peace process during his 10-year tenure as chief-of-staff to the former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Mr Brokenshire, who had already answered several questions that raised the same concern about government impartiality, simply replied: "No I don't."

This week's agreement between the DUP and the Conservative Party was signed in Downing Street after 11 days of negotiations.

The extra spending was given a cautious welcome by parties in Northern Ireland.

Image copyright Jim Pickard/Twitter

However, the deal was criticised by senior politicians in Scotland, Wales and some English regions who argued that their jurisdictions would suffer as a result of preferential treatment given to Northern Ireland.

The Scottish National Party MP was not the first to cry foul with a football analogy.

Jim Pickard, chief political correspondent with the Financial Times, tweeted some record-breaking transfer fees on Monday, by way of comparison to the DUP price tag.

He pointed out that the almost £1bn committed by the government to secure the support of the party's 10 MPs works out at about £100m each.

Mr Pickard later added: "Did I mention they played on the right wing?"

Manchester United sold Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid in 2009 for £80m, a record which has since been surpassed by transfer fees for Gareth Bale and Paul Pogba.

More on this story