Sunday 25 February 2018

DUP manifesto: What they will demand to prop up Theresa May

Arlene Foster Photo: David Young/PA Wire
Arlene Foster Photo: David Young/PA Wire

Ben Farmer

The Democratic Unionist Party's hard-line stance against gay marriage and its opposition to a hard Brexit are issues that could be stumbling blocks in any attempt to forge a coalition with the Tories.

Northern Ireland's largest unionist party has in the past been condemned by David Cameron for its long opposition to allowing gay marriage in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland is the only remaining part of the UK where same-sex marriage is not legal and the DUP has used a controversial veto mechanism to block any change to legislation. Senior figures in the party have called the issue a "red line" for power sharing talks at Stormont.

Former Northern Ireland Health Minister Jim Wells earlier this year claimed he and other members of the assembly would split from the DUP if it relaxed its opposition to same-sex marriage.

He vowed in April: “Peter will not marry Paul in Northern Ireland.”

The DUP’s stance was previously condemned by David Cameron when the prospect of a coalition with the DUP was raised before the 2015 General Election.

The then Prime Minister said he "profoundly disagreed" with the DUP’s policy on gay rights and would “never validate" it.

The DUP’s stance on Brexit could also cause tension.

Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, is keen to avoid a hard border with Ireland and has spoken against a "hard Brexit."

She has said: “No-one wants to see a ‘hard’ Brexit, what we want to see is a workable plan to leave the European Union, and that’s what the national vote was about – therefore we need to get on with that

“However, we need to do it in a way that respects the specific circumstances of Northern Ireland, and, of course, our shared history and geography with the Republic of Ireland."

The DUP manifesto says the party wants a "comprehensive free trade and customs agreement with the European Union."

The document also reveals splits with the Tories over pensions and winter fuels payments.

The DUP pledges to maintain the pension triple lock, while the Tories jettisoned the 2.5 per cent rise safeguard.

Their manifesto also says they are committed to winter fuel payments and they pledge to “resist any assault” on what it sees as an important universal benefit.

Arlene Foster has also said the party remains opposed to any reform of the province’s notoriously strict abortion laws.

She said last year that she would “not want abortion to be as freely available here as it is in England".


In brief | Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)

Founded:by Ian Paisley in 1971

Leader:Arlene Foster

Deputy leader:Nigel Dodds

Political position:In the past the DUP has billed itself as “right-wing in the sense of being strong on the constitution", but “to the left on social policy"

Size:It is the largest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly and the fifth-largest party in the House of Commons with 10 seats


Need to know

The DUP is the largest unionist political party in Northern Ireland but one of the smaller parties in the House of Commons.

They became very important following the result of the 2017 General Election, where no one party had an overall majority.


2017 manifesto key points

  • Restore a working Assembly and Executive
  • Support continued increases in the National Living Wage
  • Support proposals to further increase the personal tax allowance
  • Support the maintenance of the pensions triple lock
  • Resist any assault on universal benefits
  • Support the continuation of the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent
  • Work to get the best Brexit deal for Northern Ireland


Profile | Arlene Foster

Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

Born:3 July 1970 (age 46)

From:Born and raised in South Fermanagh, Northern Ireland

Education:Bachelor of Laws degree at Queen’s University, Belfast

Before politics:Private practice solicitor


  • First Minister of Northern Ireland (2016–2017)
  • Leader of DUP (2015–2017)
  • Minister of Finance and Personnel (2015–2016)
  • Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (2008–2015)
  • Minister of the Environment (2007–2008)
  • Joined DUP (2004)
  • Resigned Ulster Unionist Party (2003)

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