May’s additional funds to entice MPs to support Brexit could breach Bribery Laws

Theresa May has announced plans to use £1.6 billion to boost economic growth in communities and appears to target communities who’s MPs support her new withdrawal deal.

The announcement was part of the ‘Stronger Towns Fund’, which is believed to be directed towards MPs in current Labour strongholds in under-funded Northern cities and urban centres.

The plans will also see the new funding only being allocated to English communities, and there are currently no plans for similar initiatives in other UK regions.

Recently, it was found that new changes to government local council funding will reroute funds from predominantly Labour-supporting metropolitan centres to rural communities after relative poverty was taken out of the equation used to allocate funding to councils.

Secretary of State for Communities, James Brokenshire, however, has stated that the money is not linked to the outcome of the withdrawal agreement vote scheduled for the 12th of March, and that the funding will be allocated to Brexit-backing communities regardless of which deal is passed through parliament in the coming weeks.

The Labour Party Chancellor, John McDonnell, has called the plans “bribery” and Lord Thomas QC, the representative for Gresford in the house of Lords, has mentioned that the Prime Minister’s plans could be in conflict with the law.

Lord Thomas currently serves as a member or the Queen’s Counsel, the highest honour given to a law practitioner in the United Kingdom.

The plans may be in breach of section 1 of the Bribery Act 2010, which posits that any Minister who attempts to use a political or financial advantage to an MP in order to disrupt their ability to give a fair and impartial vote in Parliament.

Any MP who accepts May’s deal may also potentially be committing a crime, as Section 2 of the Bribery Act 2010 states that receiving this advantage, and intending to act on it, breaches the law.

The funding will be scheduled to last until 2026, equating to around £320 million a year, with the money being divided by region.

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