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 Irelands 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.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty