World

Partnership with N. Ireland's DUP may spell more trouble for British PM

LONDON After a disastrous general election for British Prime Minister Theresa May, Britain's Conservative government may now be propped up by a small Northern Irish party, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

But this threatens to result in more problems for the Tories.

Ultra-conservative and populist, the DUP opposes gay rights and abortion while supporting the teaching of Biblical creationism in schools, a stance that puts it at odds with mainstream British politics.

A possible partnership with the DUP has caused concern.

Popular Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who is gay, told the BBC she had asked Mrs May "for a categoric assurance" that, if any deal were to be sealed with the DUP, there would be "absolutely no rescission" of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in the rest of Britain.

A partnership between the Conservatives and the DUP may threaten the ability of the British government to be a neutral broker between the unionists and the nationalists, Mr Jonathan Powell, former chief British government negotiator on Northern Ireland, wrote in The Guardian.

"... Doing so would risk undermining 20 years of hard work in trying to reach a lasting settlement," he wrote.

The DUP was perhaps the most ardent party in supporting Brexit, but it is likely to demand concessions from Mrs May, such as receiving Westminster's coffers to replace lost European Union funds.

Ultimately, Mrs May's need for an ad hoc partnership with the DUP has weakened, rather then strengthened, her hand at the negotiating table.

- THE STRAITS TIMES

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