Tories to junk Barnett?

Well, it’s not clear what else they had in mind. But Owen Paterson’s comments this afternoon are intriguing and would put the next Tory government in a useful position to negotiate a more realistic settlement when (rather than if) the new Tory government comes in:

…we have never said that a Conservative Government would make severe cuts to Northern Ireland’s block grant. We have said the Barnett Formula can’t last forever. Any replacement would be a needs-based formula and as Northern Ireland has substantial needs it would therefore get substantial resources. These comments prove that debate about the Barnett Formula is happening in a fact-free vacuum and we have repeatedly called on the Government to show some leadership on this issue and look at an updated needs-based assessment of how spending should be allocated across the UK.

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