World

British PM strikes deal with Irish party

Northern Ireland to receive an extra $1.8 billion over two years in exchange for DUP support

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservatives struck a deal yesterday with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that will allow them to govern despite losing their majority in the general election earlier this month.

The agreement with the ultra-conservative Northern Irish party was signed in Mrs May's Downing Street office after more than two weeks of negotiations following her disastrous showing in the June 8 general election.

Under the terms of the deal, Northern Ireland will receive an extra £1 billion (S$1.8 billion) from the state over two years in exchange for DUP supporting Mrs May's Conservatives.

The Conservatives have 317 seats in the 650-seat parliament after the election and need the support of the DUP's 10 MPs to be able to govern. The deal with the DUP will prove controversial because of the party's opposition to gay marriage and abortion, as well as concern that an agreement could upset the fragile balance of the peace process in Northern Ireland.

The deal is a "confidence and supply agreement", meaning that the DUP will only guarantee to support the Conservatives in confidence and budget votes.

For any other measures support would be on a vote-by-vote basis, the text of the agreement said.

"I welcome this agreement which will enable us to work together in the interests of the whole United Kingdom," Mrs May said in a statement.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said: "This agreement will operate to deliver a stable government in the United Kingdom's national interest at this vital time."

The DUP supported Brexit but has emphasised the need to keep the border with the Irish republic open, and Mrs Foster said the deal would back a Brexit process "that supports all parts of the United Kingdom".

Mrs Foster said the extra money would be spent on infrastructure, health and education, benefitting the whole of Northern Ireland after concerns voiced by the Sinn Fein party, the DUP's rivals. - AFP

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