Northern Ireland's unionist kingmakers may help shape PM May's Brexit

Elias Hubbard
June 11, 2017

"The Northern Ireland Plan", a 12-page route map for this situation, sets out 45 DUP priorities for Westminster, many of which are financial, including an increased budget for Stormont to allow for greater real terms health and education spending, capital investment in schools and hospitals, better terms to allow Stormont to slash corporation tax and infrastructure investment in a range of areas. "Theresa May has lost credibility and leverage in her party, her country and across Europe".

At Prime Minister's Questions last November, Mr Dodds asked Mrs May if she could guarantee that Brexit "will not result in any change, adjustment or impeding of the way regions, countries and people within the United Kingdom connect with one another". Over the coming days the extent of the DUP's impact will become clearer, but already this marks an unprecedented level of influence from Belfast on a UK Government.

While the DUP remains socially conservative - opposing abortion and gay marriage - Foster is also politically pragmatic, with good working relationships with ministers in the Republic of Ireland.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's office said Sunday talks were still ongoing with the Democratic Unionist Party on seeking its support for a Conservative government after earlier saying an outline agreement had been reached.

There may be other concessions - the DUP is also opposed to means testing winter fuel payments, for example, or abandoning the "triple lock" on state pensions.

"We will continue to work with our friends and allies in the Democratic Unionist Party in particular", May said on Friday outside her official Downing Street residence in London. Overnight as the results were released, Senior DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said that the election result would put the party in a "very strong negotiating position" and make the DUP "serious players" on the national stage.

It is thought Mrs May will seek some kind of informal arrangement with the DUP that could see it "lend" its support to the Tories on a vote-by-vote basis, known as "confidence and supply".

Ms Davidson, who backed Remain in the European Union referendum, has called for the Tories to listen to other parties to deliver an "open Brexit", which she defines as ensuring that free trade is at the heart of the Brexit negotiations.

Ms Davidson's party won 13 seats in Scotland as its vote surged across the country.

In the Sunday Mirror, opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who scored hefty gains in the election, said there was still a chance for him to be prime minister if May failed to form a government.

Who are the DUP?

The party, which returned 10 MPs to Westminster, has garnered a reputation for its strong, sometimes controversial views.

During the election campaign, the DUP's Emma Little-Pengelly was endorsed by the three biggest loyalist paramilitary organisations.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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