Theresa May, Northern Irish Party Make Deal to Give Conservatives Slim Majority
May needed the DUPs to form a government.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has struck a deal with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to give the conservatives the slim majority it needs for May to stay in her role. The New York Times reported:
With the deal, which is reported to provide Northern Ireland with additional funding of up to $2 billion over five years, Mrs. May will be able to win a clear majority vote in Parliament on Wednesday on the legislative program her government set out last week. Without the support of the D.U.P., Mrs. May risked losing that vote of confidence, which would have opened the way for the opposition Labour Party to try to form a minority government of its own.
Earlier this month, the United Kingdom held a snap election that May decided to hold last March as she was riding high after the citizens voted to leave the EU. The House of Commons had more than the 326 needed to keep her government in tact, but blunders and terrorist attacks these past few months have given support to the Labour Party.
The snap election led to less than 326 Tories in the Commons, but with a majority. However, the election gave May a hung parliament, which forced her hand to make a deal with DUP in order to form a government.
And now the deal is official. The New York Times continued:
The Northern Irish party, socially conservative and largely Protestant, has 10 lawmakers in Parliament. After nearly two weeks of negotiation, mostly about money for the province, its leader, Arlene Foster, agreed to a “confidence and supply” agreement with Mrs. May. The documents were signed in Downing Street by lesser figures.
Mrs. May was quoted by the Press Association as saying that the pact was a “very, very good one” and that the two parties “share many values,” including “the desire to ensure a strong government, able to put through its program and provide for issues like the Brexit negotiations.” Mrs. Foster said that she was “delighted that we have reached this agreement, which I think works, obviously, for national stability.”
The smaller party will support the Conservatives in votes that could bring down the government. Its support is not guaranteed on other legislation. But the two parties agree on most things, including Britain’s exit from the European Union, and the Democratic Unionists are particularly eager to keep Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party from being prime minister, given his past sympathies with the Irish Catholic Sinn Fein party and the Irish Republican Army.
The deal gives her the majority by 13 members of parliaments (MP) in the House of Commons. This means she’d only become “vulnerable if only seven Tory or DUP MPs switched sides in a vote.”
The details remain somewhat vague, but The London Times reported a few items:
The deal covers the Queen’s speech, confidence votes, the Budget, finance bills and money bills and the so-called “estimates” which fund public services and government operations. It will also support Brexit legislation and national security legislation.
Other issues will be agreed on a case by case basis.
The agreement was signed by Tory chief whip Gavin Williamson and the DUP’s Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, while Mrs May, Mrs Foster, Damian Green and Nigel Dodds watched on.
Mrs Foster said that she had concluded a deal in the national interest which enhanced the Union, supported Brexit and guaranteed security.
May, Foster Statements
The London Times also published statements from May and Foster that praised the deal:
Mrs May said: “As we set out at the beginning of the talks, 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 United Kingdom.
“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.
“So the agreement we have come to is a very, very good one, and look forward to working with you.”
Mrs Foster said: “We’re delighted that we have reached this agreement, which I think works, obviously, for national stability.
“In terms of the Northern Ireland Executive, of course we are determined to see it back in place as soon as possible as well, because we believe we need a strong voice for Northern Ireland when dealing not least with the Brexit issue.”
Criticism from Labour Party and Others
London Mayor Sadiq Khan stated the deal made him “uncomfortable,” according to The London Times:
“There is understandable concern that the government will throw gratuitous pork-barrel projects at the DUP in order to buy their support but that will come at the expense of every other region of Britain. I feel deeply uncomfortable about the idea of the DUP playing any role whatsoever in propping up a minority Tory government.
“The prime minister must make a crystal-clear statement that she rejects the illiberal and intolerant social views of the DUP and give a cast-iron guarantee that LGBT rights and women’s rights will not stall or go backwards at the expense of her staying in power.”
The New York Times described Labour’s reaction as “caustic:”
“The price of Theresa May’s political weakness is now becoming clear,” said John McDonnell, the party’s top finance official. “The same Conservative Party which spent the recent election campaign saying there was no money available for the crisis in the National Health Service and schools has now found at least 1 billion pounds to buy a parliamentary majority, with some reports suggesting it could be as much as 2 billion” or around $2.55 billion.
Former Prime Minister John Major tried to change May’s mind to form a government without DUP because he feared “that a formal deal would violate the British government’s vow of neutrality in Northern Ireland, where the D.U.P. and Sinn Fein are at odds over continuing a power-sharing agreement.”
Sinn Fein’s president Gerry Adams lashed out at the pact because the deal “provides a blank check for a Tory Brexit, which threatens the Good Friday Agreement.” This agreement between the British and Irish governments and the political parties of Northern Ireland came about in the 1990s to establish boundaries and how the portion fit in with the United Kingdom. Adams continued:
“Sinn Fein will vigorously pursue the rights of citizens currently being denied by the DUP and the British government.
“We are committed to equality. Sinn Fein will resolutely oppose any attempt to give preferential treatment to British forces, either in terms of legacy or the provision of public services.
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What is ironic is the same group of morons who only a short few months ago were clamouring for a HRC presidency based on her supposedly winning the popular vote are now agitating for Labour who garnered LESS votes than the Tories in the general election.