PM Theresa May’s announcement that £1.6bn will be given to towns in the Midlands and northern England, in a bid to win over politicians in ‘leave-supporting’ areas to back her Brexit deal, has been branded a “bribe” by Labour MPs.
A string of Labour parliamentarians have greeted the Tory government’s pledge to hand a funding boost, worth £320 million a year over six years to areas severely hit by austerity cuts, with derision.
In an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire denied accusations that this new money for poorer English regions was a Brexit bribe. However, many Labour MPs have interpreted the move as a sweetener from May’s administration, in an effort to win support on her EU Withdrawal Agreement.
Labour’s shadow education secretary Angela Rayner has taken to social media to brand it “a Tory bribe, plain and simple,” and claimed May’s party “think buying votes is the only way forward these days.”
Chris Bryant, MP for the Rhondda district, brutally attacked the government’s pledge as a “cack-handed, maladroit and corrupt attempt at bribery,” insisting fewer Labour MPs would vote for her deal now, not more.
This is a Tory bribe,plain&simple, like most things the Tories do they think buying votes is the only way forward these days. I do hope many Labour MPs will not fall for this crude attempt to buy their votes. Tory austerity has already damaged these towns https://t.co/WGbiG5cHi7
— Angela Rayner (@AngelaRayner) March 4, 2019
I suspect fewer @UKLabour MPs will vote for May’s so-called deal because of today’s cack-handed, maladroit and corrupt attempt at bribery; rather than more.
— Chris Bryant (@RhonddaBryant) March 4, 2019
The Brexit bribe is pathetic in comparison to what UK regions receive from the EU.
💰 May’s Stronger Towns Fund – £1.6bn over six years / £266m per year.
💰 European Regional Development & European Social Funds to UK regions 2014-2020 – £9.34bn over 6 years / £1.56bn per year.
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) March 4, 2019
The Guardian’s deputy editor, Paul Johnson, also labelled the funding package as a “bribe,” highlighting research undertaken by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) which said it would take £19 billion a year to balance the impact of austerity cuts.
Brokenshire claimed the £1.6 billion would be enough to transform areas that have felt left behind, insisting that “there is no conditionality” on the funding, and it is being made available regardless of what happens on the issue of Brexit.
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