May government’s legislative agenda scrapes through UK parliament


May government’s legislative agenda scrapes through UK parliament

Julie Hyland

30 June 2017

The Conservative government’s legislative agenda, outlined in last week’s Queen’s Speech, made it through parliament Thursday night by 323 votes to 309—a majority of 14. This was primarily due to the support of the 10 MPs from the right-wing, sectarian Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in Northern Ireland.

Prime Minister Theresa May had struck a “confidence and supply” deal with the DUP after June’s snap election slashed the government’s number of seats to 318. The agreement gives May a working majority of 13. In return for keeping her in power, the DUP will receive £1.5 billion in additional “public expenditure” for Northern Ireland.

This is despite the deal jeopardising the British government’s supposed “impartiality” as regards the power-sharing arrangements established in Northern Ireland under the Good Friday Agreement.

Northern Ireland’s Stormont Assembly collapsed in January over a scandal involving the DUP. Talks Thursday between Sinn Fein and the DUP failed to find a resolution. If no agreement is reached on Monday, Westminster could impose direct rule.

So desperate is May that the government was forced to make a last minute agreement to help Northern Irish women forced to pay privately in England for abortions. This was in order to stymie a proposed Labour amendment aimed at challenging Northern Ireland’s extremely restrictive abortion laws. If passed, it would have thrown the Tory agreement into danger as the DUP is anti-abortion.

May’s tawdry, anti-democratic arrangements with ultra-right loyalists enabled her government to press ahead with its attacks on the working class.

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