Friday 22 September 2017

Who are the DUP and what will they want from the Tories?

Theresa May is going to form a new government with the support of the party.

By Jessica Pitocchi

The Democratic Unionist Party may be one of the smaller parties in the House of Commons but they have just become an important one after Theresa May announced she will form a new government with the support of the party.

Here’s a quick run-down of what you should know about the party and what might happen next between the Tories and the DUP.

Who are the DUP?

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The DUP are the biggest Unionist party in Northern Ireland. They gained two seats in this general election, taking their total up to 10 MPs.

Being a pro-union party, the joining up of forces may affect May’s hopes for achieving a hard Brexit.

DUP leader Arlene Foster has spoken of her desire for a soft Brexit for the benefits of working with the EU and also the Republic of Ireland.

How do they feel about a hung parliament?

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The party have actually wanted this to happen since the last election.

Their 2015 campaign was built around the hope there would be a hung parliament so that they would have more influence in the House – but David Cameron’s majority meant that was not possible.

However, the result of this snap election has brought a very different outcome which returning DUP MP for East Belfast Gavin Robinson has welcomed.

He said: “We have essentially got the result we were campaigning for two years ago.

“It didn’t materialise then but we campaigned on the basis of a hung parliament two years ago.

“I think that puts us in a fantastic position to deliver for Northern Ireland.”

What’s happening between the two parties now?

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As the final results came in, May began intensive talks with the DUP and made her way to the Palace to ask the Queen for permission to form a new government. She then announced to the public she would work with “our friends and allies in the Democratic Unionist Party”.

Foster announced on Friday afternoon that the party had entered discussions with the Conservatives “to explore how it may be possible to bring stability to our nation”.

Robinson said the arrangement between the two parties will not extend beyond a confidence and supply deal – which means the smaller party would pledge to back the government’s budget and programme without taking up ministerial positions in the new administration.

What do the DUP want from the Tories?

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There are many things on Foster’s wish-list which will be of interest in the upcoming talks that largely centre around Brexit.

Foster will be looking for some sort of “special status” for Northern Ireland and guarantees on preventing a hard border with the Republic of Ireland and any new customs operations.

The party will not stand for any arrangement that physically sets the region apart from anywhere else in the UK – including suggestions that border, immigration and customs controls could be set up at ports and airports like Stranraer and Liverpool rather than in Belfast or Larne.

Other big prices to pay for the party’s support in Westminster could be the reinstatement of any EU subsidies that farmers lose after Brexit (worth about £350 million a year) as well as around £400 million of Brussels funding for community development and cross-border projects as part of a dividend for the peace process.

Press Association

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