UK: Conservatives seek toxic alliance with Democratic Unionist Party


UK: Conservatives seek toxic alliance with Democratic Unionist Party

Steve James

24 June 2017

Negotiations continue between Theresa May’s crisis-ridden Conservative government and Northern Ireland’s far right Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) on terms for a formal coalition or a “confidence and supply” deal to pass key items of legislation.

By the time of the May government’s Queen’s Speech, agreement remained only, in the words of the prime minister’s newly appointed deputy, Damian Green, “a possibility”—with the Tories resisting DUP demands for billions for Northern Ireland infrastructure and health spending, as well as increased arms spending.

May seeking a governing relationship with the DUP’s 10 MPs is the only way she can form a majority government, but it is reckless in the extreme.

Former Conservative Prime Minister John Major said Northern Ireland’s peace process “should not be regarded as a given. It’s not certain, it’s under stress, it’s fragile.”

Major warned, referring to paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland, “hard men are still there, lurking in the corners of communities deciding whether they wish to return to some sort of violence.”

Writing in the Financial Times, Labour’s Jonathan Powell, one of the leading negotiators of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, which brought three decades of “the Troubles” to a close, explained that, in his view, “since 1990, the British government has been neutral in Northern Ireland, backing neither the unionists or the nationalists.” If May depends on the DUP to form a British government, then that government cannot be neutral on the current negotiations to revive the Northern Ireland Assembly, suspended since early this year, he said. “Failure will catapult Northern…

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