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UK Tories reach deal with N. Ireland's DUP

June 26, 2017

Theresa May and leaders of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party have reached a deal. The prime minister's Tories need the DUP's support to prop up their minority government.

Theresa May and DUP at Downing Street
Image: Getty Images/AFP/D. Leal-Olivas

Theresa May (left-center in photo) secured the Democratic Unionist Party's support for her minority government on Monday. The DUP's leaders had traveled from Northern Ireland to London to finalize an agreement with the prime minister's Conservatives, who hold a plurality in the United Kingdom's Parliament, to support her government in a crucial vote on a controversial legislative package later this week.

"As we set out at the beginning of talks, we share many values in terms of wanting to see prosperity across the UK, the value of the union, the important bond between different parts of the United Kingdom," May told the DUP, according to Britain's Press Association. "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 program 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 I look forward to working with you."  

May entered into talks with the DUP, a right-wing regional party that won 10 seats in June's elections, to try to shore up her government after her Conservatives lost their majority in the House of Commons earlier in June. With the support of the 10 DUP lawmakers, May would have the numbers she needs to put down a likely series of legislative challenges from her Tories' main rival, Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party, and allied opposition factions.

'Very good one'

The DUP and May reached a "confidence and supply" agreement. Under the deal, the smaller party will support the Tories in all fiscal matters and confidence votes, as well as Brexit talks and national security. The faction's backing will be case-by-case on other issues. 

Leading Labour politicians took to Twitter after the deal to criticize a funding windfall of 1 billion pounds (1.14 billion euros/$1.27 billion) from London for Northern Ireland during an era of extended Tory-imposed austerity in the United Kingdom in general. That would equate to over 500 pounds a head if simply split among the inhabitants of Northern Ireland.

DUP leader Arlene Foster also addressed the cash infusion from London. "We welcome this financial support of 1 billion pounds over the next two years," she said.

The parties agreed not to touch winter fuel subsidies for people with reduced incomes or the current system of increasing pension payments as cost of living rises. The Tories and DUP also said that they would "consider options to support" British reserve troops on Northern Ireland's soil.

Foster called herself overall "delighted" with the terms and said she found the deal "a very good one," adding that her party and the Tories "share many values." On several issues, notably abortion rights and same-sex marriage, the two factions do not hold common ground.

mkg/msh (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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