Friday 20 October 2017

Almost 600,000 people sign petition against the Tory-DUP deal in just 12 hours

Theresa May has said that she will try and strike a deal with the controversial Northern Irish party

Arlene Foster and UK Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: REUTERS/Charles McQuillan
Arlene Foster and UK Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: REUTERS/Charles McQuillan

Caroline Mortimer

An online petition demanding that the Conservatives scrap plans to form a government with DUP support has gained nearly 600,000 signatures in just 12 hours.

Signed by 574,787people at the time of writing, the petition also calls for Theresa May to resign after she lost her parliamentary majority.

Those behind the petition are seeking a million signatures and they promise to deliver the completed petition to 10 Downing Street.

Speaking outside No 10 after the result became clear, the Prime Minister said that she would seek to form a minority government with a "confidence and supply" agreement with the Northern Irish party.

It would mean that they would vote with the Government on a case-by-case basis.

But the party is controversial for many of its stances on LGBT rights, abortion and climate change as well as its alleged links with unionist terrorists.

Many commentators have condemned the move, saying it could potentially destabilise the peace process in the country that is already under strain following the collapse of the power-sharing agreement earlier this year.

The UK and Irish governments are currently trying to mediate between the DUP and Irish nationalists to restore the Northern Irish government.

Under the terms of the power-sharing deal if a unionist is First Minister, a nationalist must serve as Deputy First Minister.

It was suspended in January when Sinn Fein withdrew from the agreement and said it would refuse to work with the DUP while First Minister Arlene Foster remained in her post.

Ms Foster has refused to resign over a scandal from her time as finance minister when it was found she had personally campaigned to keep a government-backed renewable-energy scheme opened despite it overspending by £400m (€455m).

Former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell, whose government got the Good Friday agreement signed in 1998, said Ms May was threatening the peace process by securing an alliance with one of the parties the Government is supposed to be mediating between.

Speaking on the BBC’s Question Time, he said: “She is playing fast and loose, on Brexit, on Margaret Thatcher’s greatest achievement – the single market.” He also said that the Prime Minister was risking “Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s greatest achievement, which is peace in Northern Ireland.

“She is putting that at risk with a sordid, dangerous, distasteful deal.

“We have a situation in Northern Ireland right now where there has been a political crisis where the Government is the mediator between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

“How can our Government be the mediator when the DUP is going to be part of our government?”

(© Independent News Service)

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