Northern Ireland

DUP-Tory deal 'may make peace process difficult' - Patten

Chris Patten
Image caption The former Tory chairman said people in Northern Ireland know "a bung is a bung is a bung"

The DUP-Tory deal may make the peace process "more difficult in the long-term," a former Tory chairman has said.

Lord Chris Patten said it would be "difficult for the UK government to show neutrality" when it has done a close political deal with the DUP.

The parties agreed a £1bn deal on Monday, meaning DUP MPs will support the Conservatives in key Commons votes.

Lord Patten added that, in the short term, Sinn Féin may want to be "part of the action" when the money comes.

The former governor of Hong Kong had been critical of a potential DUP-Tory deal, before it was settled.

He told ITV's Peston on Sunday the DUP was a "toxic brand". "There is a danger of us looking like a 'nasty party' again. Their values are not ours," he added.

Speaking to BBC's Stephen Nolan Show, he explained these comments further.

"British newspapers are going to start, and have already begun, a forensic investigation of the background of DUP members and the extent to which some of them have histories with paramilitary activities." he said.

"I don't think that's good for Northern Ireland."

The DUP has made clear it condemns all paramilitary violence.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and Tory Chief Whip Gavin Williamson signed the deal in front of their party leaders

'A bung is a bung is a bung'

Lord Patten then pointed to the DUP's socially conservative views. "It won't surprise you to know that I disagree with the DUP's social attitudes," he said.

Again, papers have started to pick over those views and it's not good for the DUP or its image.

"I love Northern Ireland and I think, like other parts of the country, it could do with more public spending - but it already gets more than other parts of the country.

"Northern Ireland and its citizens know as well as I do, that a bung is a bung is a bung.

"What will happen now, is every time anyone wants a pay rise, for example, when nurses in England are told they can't have a pay increase - people will point to this deal with the DUP."

'Not necessary'

"You do deals to govern everyone fairly and I don't think this deal was necessary."

"Would the DUP really have got rid of a Conservative government with the risk of Mr Corbyn, who has a certain relationship with Republican Sinn Féin, being the next prime minister? I rather doubt it".

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