The agreement between the government and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is rightly a major concern. The published details of its agreement have done nothing to address worries that this arrangement could allow the DUP’s regressive stance on social issues to gain traction in wider UK politics and negatively impact on the Northern Ireland peace process. Over £1 billion of extra funding for Northern Ireland has been pledged in return for DUP support, completely undermining the government’s claim that the deal is in the national interest.
I will continue to scrutinise the government on social issues and will oppose any rolling back on equality. For instance, at the recent general election I stood on a manifesto which committed to work with the Northern Ireland Assembly to extend the right to choose a safe, legal abortion to women in Northern Ireland. Following cross-party pressure during the Queen’s Speech debate led by my colleague Stella Creasy, and an amendment that I signed, the government has now committed to making NHS abortions available to women travelling from Northern Ireland. I will continue to defend the Opposition’s principles of equality and social justice for all.
The Good Friday agreement helped bring peace to Northern Ireland, but it is fragile and relies on trust, good faith and the impartiality of the UK government. It is worrying that the government is putting the agreement at risk in order to ensure its own survival.
I do not begrudge Northern Ireland receiving extra funding for infrastructure projects, health and education, but in Scotland, Wales and the English regions, the need is just as great. Indeed, public services in Liverpool Wavertree are in serious need of extra funding. This funding should be forthcoming for our area too.
While this may be a good short term deal for a Tory government clinging to power, it is not a good deal for the country as a whole, and I will oppose it wherever possible.