May’s po­si­tion re­mains in­se­cure, de­spite DUP deal

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

LON­DON: Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May struck a deal yes­ter­day to prop up her mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment with the sup­port of a small North­ern Ir­ish Protes­tant party.

Af­ter May lost her ma­jor­ity in par­lia­ment on June 8 with a failed gam­ble on a snap elec­tion, she tried to se­cure the back­ing of the small Demo­cratic Union­ist Party (DUP) and its 10 law­mak­ers, though talks had dragged on for more than two weeks.

May and DUP leader Ar­lene Fos­ter presided at the sign­ing of a deal at Down­ing Street yes­ter­day. They smiled and joked as ne­go­tia­tors from both sides, the DUP’s Jef­frey Don­ald­son and the Con­ser­va­tives’ Gavin Wil­liamson, signed the deal.

The de­tails of the deal were not im­me­di­ately re­leased.

A deal would al­low May to pass leg­is­la­tion with the back­ing of the DUP in the 650-seat par­lia­ment, and stay in power as she at­tempts to ne­go­ti­ate Bri­tain’s exit from the EU.

But May’s po­si­tion re­mains in­se­cure. Her Brexit strat­egy is un­der scru­tiny and her future as prime min­is­ter is the sub­ject of pub­lic de­bate.

Some se­nior Con­ser­va­tives have voiced un­ease at a deal with the DUP, say­ing it could put at risk the 1998 peace set­tle­ment in North­ern Ireland, known as the Good Fri­day Agree­ment. Fos­ter said a deal with May could help drive a sec­ond deal on power-shar­ing in the prov­ince.

North­ern Ireland has been in cri­sis since Sinn Fein pulled out of gov­ern­ment in Jan­uary, prompt­ing an elec­tion in March and a se­ries of missed dead­lines to re­store the com­pul­sory coali­tion be­tween Ir­ish Catholic na­tion­al­ists and pro-Bri­tish Protes­tant union­ists.

“I think this agree­ment will bring the prospects of do­ing a deal at (the Belfast par­lia­ment) Stor­mont closer be­cause this will have a pos­i­tive im­pact in re­la­tion to North­ern Ireland,” Fos­ter said ear­lier, ad­ding that a sec­ond deal on power-shar­ing in the prov­ince could be reached this week too.

“I very much hope that this week we will be able to con­clude on two agree­ments.”

The lat­est dead­line set by the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment for the par­ties in North­ern Ireland to reach an agree­ment is Thurs­day. Sinn Fein said last week that “time was run­ning out” given the lack of knowl­edge about the im­pact of any Con­ser­va­tive/ DUP deal.


Bri­tain’s Prime Min­is­ter, Theresa May, with Demo­cratic Union­ist Party leader, Ar­lene Fos­ter, at 10 Down­ing Street in Lon­don yes­ter­day.

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