UK PM Theresa May strikes $1.3bn deal for support from Northern Irish party
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UK PM Theresa May strikes $1.3bn deal for support from Northern Irish party

Prime Minister Theresa May’s government has agreed to increase spending by 1 billion pounds over two years as part of the deal.

world Updated: Jun 26, 2017 19:34 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
Democratic Unionist Party,‪Theresa May,Conservative Party
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (L) shakes hands with Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster (C) as they arrive for a meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London on Monday.(AFP Photo)

Prime Minister Theresa May’s minority government got a semblance of stability on Monday after the Conservative party reached a coalition deal with the Northern Ireland-based Democratic Unionist Party, despite reservations over London’s neutrality in the trouble-torn region.

The ruling Conservative party won 318 seats in the 650-member House of Lords in the June 8 election, falling short of the required majority mark of 326; the DUP won 10 seats. The coalition deal with enable the government to get the Queen’s speech passed in parliament next week.

Former interlocutors as well as Conservative leaders were opposed to the deal, since it would jeopardise London’s neutral position on the conflict in Northern Ireland, as set out in the Good Friday Agreement, which had led to a period of peace.

Under the deal, the DUP agreed to support the May government on all matters of confidence, on the Queen’s speech, the budget, finance bills and other parliamentary measures. It also agreed to support the government on Brexit-related isues.

The Tory-DUP deal includes an extra 1 billion pound ($1.3 billion) funding for Northern Ireland over two years, and concessions on issues such as pensions and keeping defence spending at 2% of GDP. Talks are also on to restore the Northern Ireland assembly, which was dissolved earlier this year.

“As we set out at the beginning of the talks, we share many values in terms of wanting to see prosperity across the UK, the value of the union, the important bond between the different parts of the United Kingdom,” May said after the deal document was signed at 10, Downing Street. “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 programme and provide for issues like the Brexit negotiations, but also national security issues.”

Arlene Foster, DUP leader, said: “We’re delighted that we have reached this agreement, which I think works, obviously, for national stability”.

“In terms of the Northern Ireland executive, of course we are determined to see it back in place as soon as possible as well, because we believe we need a strong voice for Northern Ireland when dealing not least with the Brexit issue”.

First Published: Jun 26, 2017 16:26 IST