Conservatives, DUP sign deal over U.K minority government

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May stands with Democratic Unionist Party (D.U.P.) leader Arlene Foster as the Conservatives and DUP sign a confidence and supply deal inside No 10 Downing Street on June 26, 2017.

The Conservatives have reached an agreement with the Democratic Unionists which will see them support Theresa May’s minority government.

The deal, which comes two weeks after the election resulted in a hung Parliament, will see the 10 DUP MPs back the Tories in key Commons votes.

There will be £1bn extra for Northern Ireland over the next two years.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said the “wide-ranging” agreement was “good for Northern Ireland and for the UK”.

A three page document outlining the terms of the agreement has been published in full. The DUP said it would apply for the lifetime of the Parliament, scheduled to last five years, but would also be reviewed at the end of the current session in two years time.

There will be £1.5bn in funding – consisting of £1bn of new money and £500m of previously announced funds – to be spent over the next two years on infrastructure, health and education in Northern Ireland, money Mrs Foster said was needed to address the challenges from Northern Ireland’s “unique history”.

As part of the deal, the military covenant will be implemented in full in Northern Ireland, meaning more focus on the treatment of military veterans, while the triple lock guarantee of at least a 2.5% rise in the state pension each year, and winter fuel payments, will be maintained throughout the UK.

Other key points of the agreement include:

  • The DUP will support the Tories on all Brexit and security legislation
  • The UK’s 2% Nato defence spending target will continue to be met
  • Cash support for farmers will remain at current levels until the next election
  • Both parties to adhere to commitments in Good Friday Agreement
  • No Irish border poll without “consent of the people”

Mrs. May shook hands with DUP leader Arlene Foster as she and other senior party figures arrived at Downing Street on Monday to finalise the pact.

The two leaders then watched as Conservative chief whip Gavin Williamson and his DUP counterpart Jeffrey Donaldson signed the documents in No 10.

Speaking outside Downing Street, Mrs. Foster said the agreement would bring stability to the UK government as it embarked on the Brexit process,

“This agreement will operate to deliver a stable government in the United Kingdom’s national interest at this vital time,” she said.

Welcoming the additional funding for Northern Ireland, she said it would benefit all communities.

“Following our discussions the Conservative Party has recognised the case for higher funding in Northern Ireland, given our unique history and indeed circumstances over recent decades.”

The UK prime minister said the pact was a “very good one” for the UK as a whole.

“We share many values in terms of wanting to see prosperity across the UK, the value of the union, the important bond between the different parts of the UK,” Mrs. May said.

“We very much want to see that protected and enhanced and we also share the desire to ensure a strong government, able to put through its programme and provide for issues like the Brexit negotiations, but also national security issues.”

‘Confidence and supply’

Under the so-called “confidence and supply” arrangement, the DUP will line up behind the government in key votes, such as on the Queen’s Speech and Budgets, which would threaten the government’s survival if they were lost.

They will also back Theresa May on Brexit and security matters, which are likely to dominate most of the current Parliament.

On other legislation, the DUP’s support is not necessarily guaranteed – although the Northern Ireland party is expected to back the majority of the government’s programme for the next two years after many of its more controversial policies were dropped.

Theresa May fell nine seats short of an overall majority after the snap election, meaning she is reliant on other parties to pass legislation, including relating to the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

Labour have demanded details of how much the deal will cost UK taxpayers and what financial promises have been made.

 

Zainab Sa’id