Stephen Farry stated: “The UUP are posturing on the Budget at a time when people are crying out for positive leadership. Everyone knows that the financial settlement from the UK Treasury is very tight, and the Executive has a responsibility to strike a budget in order that Departments, agencies and many community and voluntary bodies are able to spend and plan for the future from April onwards.
“Any final Budget will be the product of negotiation within the Executive. No party can expect to have everything their own way. If Alliance had its own way, we would do things differently reflecting our own analysis and priorities.
“The UUP do not have the luxury of doing one thing in the Assembly and voting against the Budget, and the same time remaining on the Executive. Politically, the striking of a Budget is the decision that is most central to the cohesion of any government. Legally, under the Ministerial Code, both UUP Ministers will be obliged to publicly support the Budget. So they will end up in the bizarre situation of two ministers having to defend the Budget while their colleagues do something different.
“If that is to be the case, then the UUP would be better off leaving the Executive.
“This current system is far from ideal. Alliance is committed to reform. However, the worst possible thing would be for parties to play games with the system.”