- Theresa May to meet with DUP leader Arlene Foster to agree a deal on forming a government.
- DUP likely to ask for economic aid in exchange for propping up May’s government.
- Fixed Term Parliament Act gives DUP the power to oust May’s government at any time.
- Talks likely to delay the Queen’s Speech next week.
LONDON — Theresa May will on Tuesday meet with the leader of the DUP Arlene Foster in order to agree a deal which will allow the prime minister to form a government.
So what will the deal look like and how long can it possibly last? Here’s everything you need to know about the Hung Parliament nightmare facing Theresa May.
The Conservatives won the election. Why do they need to make a deal?
The Conservatives did win the most seats in parliament but they didn’t win a majority of all seats. Without that majority, May needs to secure the support of a smaller party, or parties, in order to get her manifesto promises through parliament. That’s why she’s meeting with the DUP.
Why didn’t she just go into coalition with the Liberal Democrats again?
The Liberal Democrats ruled out any deals or coalitions with other parties in advance of the election. The view in the Lib Dem leadership, and among the bulk of the membership, is that the last coalition was deeply damaging to the party and they can’t afford to enter another one again. With other smaller parties in parliament all having fundamental disagreements with the Conservatives, the DUP was the only viable option left for May.
But won’t it threaten the peace process in Northern Ireland?
That’s certainly the fear. The Good Friday Agreement, which secured the current peace process in Northern Ireland requires the UK government to show “rigorous impartiality” as part of its role. Any deal with the DUP could potentially put that at risk. The government have dismissed any threat to talks, however. “We are absolutely committed to our impartial role,” a spokesperson for the prime minister told Business Insider on Monday.
So will the DUP form part of the UK government?
It’s possible that the DUP could demand a seat in May’s Cabinet or even a formal coalition, but that is not currently the plan. May instead plans to secure a “confidence and supply” arrangement with the DUP.
A confidence and supply agreement is when a smaller party agrees to prop up a minority government on any vote of confidence as well as any budgetary vote. Essentially it’s an agreement to allow the government to operate on a basic day-to-day level but stops short of a formal coalition in which both parties agree a full agenda for government. There will, however, be a Queen’s Speech which will contain measures that both parties can agree on.
When’s the Queen’s Speech?
We don’t yet know. It was originally pencilled in for Monday, June 12 but has now been pushed back until later in the week. There’s a hitch, however.
The Royal Ascot horse race meeting starts on Tuesday and lasts for the rest of the week. The Queen never misses Ascot.
Wait so Theresa May can’t get her government started because the Queen will be watching the horses?
Well possibly. Her Majesty may just have to miss a few races.
She won’t be happy about that.
She certainly won’t.
So what’s likely to be in the Queen’s speech?
We don’t yet know. A spokesperson for the prime minister refused to confirm reports that several key pledges in the Conservative manifesto are to be dropped. However, the signs are that Tory plans to introduce a new wave of grammar schools will no longer see the light of day, nor will controversial plans to reform social care. Also likely to be missing are plans to afford Donald Trump a state visit later this year.Trump has reportedly told the prime minister he does not want to come while the British public still
Also likely to be missing are plans to afford Donald Trump a state visit later this year. Trump has reportedly told the prime minister he does not want to come while the British public still plan to stage large protests against him. He could have a long wait.
What about Brexit? Will May’s plans remain the same?
Officially yes. A spokesperson for the PM said on Monday that “our position remains the same” on Brexit. They insisted that plans to cut immigration to the tens of thousands a year remain in place as do plans to leave the Single Market. Their plans to leave the Customs Union may be in trouble, however. The DUP are opposed to any hard border between Northern Ireland, which could be impossible if Britain leaves the customs union.
Will the Queen’s speech pass?
Almost certainly yes. If May comes to an agreement with the DUP then she will have a clear majority for her Queen’s speech. However, if she fails to secure a deal, or she suffers a rebellion within her own party then there is a slim possibility that it won’t pass.
What would happen then? Would her government fall?
No. The Fixed Term Parliament Act (FTPA) means that the only way to force another election is for a motion to be passed in parliament to hold one. Technically May could fail to pass a Queen’s Speech and limp on. However, it would be incredibly politically difficult to do so and would probably lead to a vote of no confidence under the FTPA.
So the DUP could choose to force an election at any time?
They certainly could. Without a formal coalition, the DUP could decide at any point that they no longer wish to support the government and force the UK public back to the polls. This gives a party of just 10 MPs huge power to influence government policy, should they wish to wield it.
Will they seek to use that influence?
Almost certainly. Wielding influence is what politicians and political parties are designed to do. In many ways, it would be more surprising if they choose not to use their influence than if they do.
So what do the DUP want?
DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds suggested in a brief press conference this afternoon that the party wants further devolution to Northern Ireland as part of any deal. They are also likely to push for an agreement that there should be no referendum on Irish unity and no hard border with the Republic of Ireland. They are also likely to call for greater economic aid to Northern Ireland
There are also likely to be other demands. In a 2015 document, the party set out 45 key demands for hung parliament negotiations. These included:
- Changes to corporation tax
- Increased health and education spending in Northern Ireland
- Scrapping the bedroom tax
- A guaranteed seat at the Cabinet for a Secretary of State for Northern Ireland;
- Removal of allowances from parties who refuse to attend the House of Commons (Sinn Fein)
- Protection in law for the official display of the Union Flag and the symbols of our nation
- Legislation for a new way forward on parading which respects the fundamental rights of assembly
With the hung parliament handing such obvious power to the DUP, such demands are likely to grow.
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