21, June 2017
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s negotiations on staying in power with the support of the Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) have not proceeded as expected. “Talks are ongoing with the DUP and we continue to work towards a confidence and supply arrangement,” a Conservative source told Reuters on Tuesday.
“As we have said, both parties are committed to strengthening the Union (between the UK’s member nations), combating terrorism, delivering Brexit and delivering prosperity across the whole United Kingdom.” “While our discussions continue it is important the government gets on with its business.” DUP sources also complained of the lack of “negotiating experience” on the Conservative side, a day after the separate Brexit talks also got underway. “The negotiations haven’t proceeded in a way that DUP would have expected,” a source told Sky News.
May had called for a snap election in April in hopes of getting an increased parliamentary majority that could have strengthened her position before going into two years of intense negotiations with the European Union about Britain’s departure from the bloc. However, May’s election gamble spectacularly backfired. British voters dealt her a devastating blow last Thursday, wiping out her parliamentary majority and throwing the country into political turmoil.
Now, the premier has been trying to save herself by forming a coalition government with the DUP, which won 10 seats. May and DUP leader Arlene Foster have met to discuss a plan to form the government. The DUP has been urging May’s government to give “greater focus” to the negotiations and that the DUP “can’t be taken for granted.” May’s office announced on Saturday that the DUP had agreed to support her government on the basis of a “confidence and supply” arrangement in parliament.
The so-called confidence and supply agreement means that the supporting party will back the government in motions of confidence by either voting in favor or abstaining, while retaining the right to vote otherwise in matters of conscience. “Supply”, on the other hand, refers to bills required for a minority government to receive funds to allow it to enact its policies.
Tory MPs have threatened they would object to a formal coalition, citing the DUP’s position on abortion, climate change and gay rights. A total of 326 seats is needed for a majority in the Commons, as efforts to run a minority government are usually doomed to fail because of the inability to get any legislation through the parliament, which means that an arrangement with another political party is essential.