In a remarkable development Gordon Brown has moved to leave the door wide open to doing a deal with the DUP in the eventuality of his being close to being able to form a government.
The DUP has revealed the contents of a letter approved by Mr Brown and received by the leader Peter Robinson on Tuesday stating that a Labour government would honour all financial commitments promised in the recent Justice package and even more significantly has guaranteed no cuts to the Northern Ireland block grant for 2010/2011.
The Conservatives have been threatening to introduce £6b of cuts in the first year in government with fears obtaining in NI that people here might have to live with at least £100m of a cutback.
The DUP was not impressed with what was viewed as a swipe at the Robinsons by David Cameron on his trip to NI on Tuesday when he stated there would be no “swish” living by UU/CON MPS at Westminster.
This twist introduced at the eleventh hour and disclosed on the eve of poll brings a new dimension and element of surprise to a remarkable election campaign and bid for power on the road to Downing Street.
The full text of Gordon’s Brown letter is reported below.
I am writing to confirm my continued commitment to the block grant for Northern Ireland for the current financial year and to confirm the financial settlement for the budget of the newly established Department of Justice.
As I have made repeatedly clear to you and the Leaders of all the political parties in the Assembly, I continue to recognize the unique problems that arose as a direct consequence of the years of The Troubles. It is essential that the recently established political recovery is not put at risk.
As you know, I believe it is an imperative to stabilize the economic recovery in Northern Ireland. It is very clear to me from my repeated visits and from meetings with you and the Deputy First Minister, we cannot take this recovery for granted. The work undertaken by all the Assembly parties to ensure political as well as economic stability remains equally vital.
I want to see a growing and strong private sector in Northern Ireland. However, I recognize that the legacy of the past will make this more difficult to achieve in the coming months than we may expect in other parts of the United Kingdom. This is a challenge we must all meet.
The achievements made by you and the political leaders of Northern Ireland have been an example to us all. I remain firmly committed to doing all I can to support this momentous progress and you can count on my continued support.
Rt Hon Gordon Brown
Leader of the Labour Party