PHILIP Hammond has been accused of trying to bribe the DUP to get behind Theresa May’s Brexit deal. The SNP’s Ian Blackford said any pact between the Tory Government and the DUP would be “utterly indefensible”.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, the Chancellor, who has been in talks with the 
party’s deputy leader, Nigel Dodds, tried to play down reports he was set to toss the Northern Irish Unionists more money from the Treasury’s coffers.

But it followed claims in the Sunday papers that the DUP were seeking both another £1 billion to support the minority Tory Government, and a guarantee that they would be “deeply involved” in any future trade negotiations with the EU.

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May’s deal has next to no chance of getting through the Commons without the support of the DUP’s 10 MPs. Not only do they carry the Prime Minister’s slim majority, but their final decision will also influence the final decision of the Brexiteer European Research Group of backbench Tory MPs.

The SNP’s Ian Blackford said any such pact between May and the DUP would be “utterly indefensible”.

The National:

Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell accused his opposite number of “gutter politics”.

Marr asked the Chancellor if he had offered the DUP “any money in return for voting for the deal”.

Hammond replied: “The DUP is primarily concerned about the threat of divergence between the regime in Northern Ireland and the regime in Great Britain. The DUP are passionate unionists, I’m a passionate unionist myself and I regard it as crucially important that we do not allow differences to grow up between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.”

He insisted that this wasn’t “about money” but “political reassurance”.

“We are coming up to a spending review and we will have to look at all budgets, including devolved, blocked-ground budgets, in that spending review. We haven’t even started looking at it yet. We haven’t started the

spending review yet. We’ve got an additional complexity in Northern Ireland as you know. The House of Commons voted a budget through for Northern Ireland last week and Northern Ireland is in very difficult circumstances.”

Responding, Blackford said: “Not only is this discredited and shambolic Tory Government willing to buy off the DUP’s support for a deal which would be bad for Scotland, it also appears to be prepared to give the DUP influence over future trade negotiations.

“This would be utterly indefensible, undemocratic and show once again that Scotland’s interests are being completely ignored.” He added: “Westminster is broken and it is failing Scotland, and with each day that passes it is becoming clearer than ever that the only way to properly protect our economic and social interests is with independence. Scotland deserves the chance to choose a better future than the one being carved out for us by the Tories and the DUP.”

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Taking to Twitter, McDonnell said the Chancellor’s “wriggling refusal on several occasions to deny the DUP is being offered a bung for voting for May’s deal” meant it was “blindingly obvious that Hammond is offering a bribe to the DUP in the forthcoming spending review”.

“Gutter politics,” he added.

Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon has said Scotland is being “totally ignored” by Westminster.

Writing in the Sunday Mail, she said the chaos was strengthening the case for independence: “The UK Parliament has not worked in Scotland’s national interest for a very long time, if indeed it ever did.”

“The people of Scotland deserve the chance to choose a better future than this,” she added.