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Fresh threat for May as DUP send clear warning

Fresh threat for May as DUP send clear warning

Last week all attention was focused on Jacob Rees-Mogg, the influential European Research Group and whether they had reach the all important 48 letters required to challenge Theresa May’s leadership of the Conservative Party. 

This week the threat still remains, albeit this time from the Democratic Unionist Party, the DUP for short. 

Who are the DUP and why does their deal matter?

The DUP represent the Unionist, those who want Northern Ireland to remain a part of the UK and oppose a united Ireland. They are in a confidence-and-supply arrangement with the Conservative Party.

This is because the Conservatives lost their majority in 2017, winning 318 seats, 8 short of the magic 326, out of 650 seats.

This deal, worth £1bn in extra funding for Northern Ireland, will see 10 DUP MPs back the Tories in key Commons votes. 

Why is this important?

This had meant key Brexit votes, but all this seemed to end after DUP failed to back the government on a number of amendment to its Finance Bill. The party also supported an amendment proposed by the Labour Party - an unprecedented move given the ideological differences between the two parties.

In recent weeks the relationship between the DUP and the Government has become strained, following criticism by the DUP of the draft withdrawal agreement published last week. 

This agreement, which proposes the Northern Irish backstop, prompted the DUP to review its arrangement propping up the Conservatives, particularly if it passes through Parliament. 

What does this mean for Brexit?

Clearly, the DUP are trying to sent a message to Mrs May. The Party objects to key parts of her draft agreement, as it treats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the UK, according to the them. 

This was reinforced by DUP MP Sammy Wilson, the party’s spokesperson on Brexit, who said that the government has “seriously broken” its commitment. 

After voting against the government, the DUP has also confirmed that their 10 MPs will abstain on key budget votes again this evening, pushing the Government to the verge of collapse. 

The Prime Minister however is hoping to keep relations in tact, with Boris Johnson and Philip Hammond due to speak at the DUPs annual conference this weekend. Indeed, the agreement signed by both parties was for the whole length of Parliament, until 2022. 

However, it is clear that unless the Prime Minister amends her draft withdrawal agreement, it is not just her own party she needs to be cautious of; a fact made even more clear today, with talk of an SNP Labour ‘coalition of opposition’. 

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