DUP and Conservatives sign '£1 billion' deal to support minority Tory government

Theresa May. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/ Getty Images.
  • Democratic Unionist Party seals £1bn agreement with the Conservatives to support their minority government.
  • DUP leader Arlene Foster travelled to London in to conclude talks with Theresa May.
  • Deal expected to be a ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement, where the DUP would vote with government on votes of confidence and budget matters.
  • News comes ahead of vote on Queen’s Speech, which the government needs to pass.

LONDON — Theresa May has come to an agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party over a reported £1bn deal in order to have a majority in the House of Commons.

The deal is reportedly a ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement, where the DUP will support the Conservative minority government and vote with it on the Queen’s speech this week.

The leader of the DUP, Arlene Foster, had said that a deal between the DUP and the Conservatives is “close” as she returned to London to conclude talks on Monday.

Foster told The Belfast Telegraph that “I believe we are close to concluding an appropriate agreement with the Conservative Party to support a minority Government on a confidence and supply basis.”

The Conservatives were hopeful of completing the deal between the two parties before the crucial vote on the Queen’s speech this week, possibly on Wednesday or Thursday, which they will need to win.

The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg tweeted on Monday morning that “DUP deal now expected by lunctime today.”

The DUP have 10 MPs, which when added to the Conservatives 318 gives the minority government a majority of two in the House of Commons.

Talks had been ongoing since the shock general election result which deprived the Tories of their majority, and have been lengthy and troubled as the DUP pushed the government hard for concessions. 

Foster admitted that it had been “slow at times,” but both parties “continue to work through the issues.” The DUP leader also said that her party was “at the heart of UK politics and in an incredibly influential position.” 

The ‘confidence and supply’ deal which is expected to be announced will mean the DUP will vote with the government on votes of confidence, the budget and the Queen’s speech, with negotiations needed over getting other legislation passed.

The vote on the Queen’s Speech is expected to be very close, as Labour attempt to defeat the minority government at the first opportunity. The debate over ammendments to the speech is expected to be heated.

Former Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers told the BBC’s Today programme that the deal “is likely to involve a package of support for the Northern Ireland economy. There is definitely a credible case for supporting the Northern Ireland case with a financial package.”

Foster also told Sky News: “I think that this agreement will bring the prospects of doing a deal at Stormont closer because this will have a positive impact in relation to Northern Ireland.”

The Northern Ireland Assembly has been without an executive since January, and negotiations between the DUP and Sinn Fein to re-establish Stormont have their deadline this Thursday, after which direct rule might be imposed from Westminster. Foster said “I very much hope that this week we will be able to conclude on two agreements.”

Leading political figures have warned that a Tory-DUP deal is dangerous for Northern Ireland and the Conservative Party. Former prime minister John Major warned that it could cause a return of violence to the region, and that the government would not be seen as “impartial” in Stormont negotiations.

Labour MP Stephen Kinnock told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show that by “going into this formal agreement with the DUP you are in serious danger of wrecking the Northern Ireland peace process.”

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