DUP’s Arlene Foster [Left] and the Conservative Party’s Theresa May. [Right] Photo Source: The Telegraph.
Rónán Stewart, Contributor.
It has been almost 2 weeks since the DUP, a party scarcely known in mainland Britain, became Google’s most searched for political party after what has been described as a “shock” hung parliament election result.
When the Tories did not secure a majority, Theresa May revealed that she would attempt to form a minority government with the support of the DUP on a “confidence and supply” basis, a deal which has been coined a “Coalition of Chaos.”
A “confidence and supply” deal is not a formal coalition, instead the Government would rely on DUP support during key votes and to prevent it from being dismantled by a motion of no confidence.
This announcement has been met by a wave of condemnation with a petition opposing the deal gaining over 750,000 signatures.
Criticism has focused on the DUP’s unwavering opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion and a weak stance on climate change issues.
With the Tories relying on the DUP for survival, questions have also been raised as to whether the Government can remain a neutral broker in talks between the DUP and Sinn Féin.
Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former Communications Director, has said that the Prime Minister’s deal with the DUP “is putting [peace in Northern Ireland] at risk with a sordid, dangerous, distasteful deal.”
“We have a situation in Northern Ireland right now where there has been a political crisis where the Government is the mediator with the Irish government between the DUP and Sinn Féin.”
“How can our government be the mediator when the DUP are going to be part of our government?”
Similar concerns have been voiced by Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams: “We told [the Prime Minister] very directly that she was in breach of the Good Friday Agreement.”
Whilst the details of the DUP-Tory agreement remain shrouded in mystery, commentators have suggested that Brexit, tax, benefits, pensions, security and legacy issues are likely to be high on the agenda for negotiations.
With Friday marking two weeks since the election, fresh reports suggest that negotiations between the Conservatives and the DUP are not running as smoothly as hoped with a deal “certainly not imminent.”
First Secretary of State, Damien Green, said: “There’s still the possibility, there’s every possibility of a DUP deal.”
“We’re both obviously very concerned with combating terrorism, we both have similar views about delivering a good Brexit for this country, and, obviously, we’re both very, very concerned with the Irish border issue.”
Any detail on the content or viability of a Tory-DUP deal remains unclear, but with less than a week until the crucial parliamentary vote on the Queen’s speech, time is ticking for an already wounded Government to secure the DUP’s support.