Tories and DUP agree confidence and supply deal

The Conservatives and the DUP have finally stuck a deal that will allow the Conservatives to continue to rule as a minority government. 

It is understood that negotiations focussed on Westminster government spending in Northern Ireland rather than social issues. Sources in Belfast suggest that the figure is in the region of an additional £1bn contribution to the Northern Ireland budget. 

The support of the DUP will give May an effective working majority of 13, given that Sinn Fein do not take up their seven seats and Speaker John Bercow and his three deputies - two of whom are Labour MPs - do not take part in votes.

According to the Press Association, Theresa May said this to the DUP:

As we set out at the beginning of the talks, we share many values in terms of wanting to see prosperity across the UK, the value of the union, the important bond between the different parts of the United Kingdom.

We very much want to see that protected and enhanced and we also share the desire to ensure a strong government, able to put through its programme and provide for issues like the Brexit negotiations, but also national security issues.

So the agreement we have come to is a very, very good one, and look forward to working with you.

Arlene Foster, DUP leader, said: 

We’re delighted that we have reached this agreement, which I think works, obviously, for national stability.

In terms of the Northern Ireland executive, of course we are determined to see it back in place as soon as possible as well, because we believe we need a strong voice for Northern Ireland when dealing not least with the Brexit issue.

Full text of the agreement follows: 

Agreement Between the Conservative and Unionist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party on Support for the Government in Parliament

In accordance with our shared objectives for strengthening and enhancing the Union, security, prosperity and an exit from the European Union that benefits all parts of the United Kingdom, this letter sets out how the confidence and supply agreement reached between the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) will operate to deliver a stable government in the United Kingdom’s national interest for the duration of this Parliament.

Confidence and supply agreement in the UK Parliament

The DUP agrees to support the Government on all motions of confidence and on the Queen’s speech; the Budget; finance bills; money bills, supply and appropriation legislation and Estimates.

In line with the parties’ shared priorities for negotiation a successful exit from the European Union and protecting the country in the light of recent terrorist attacks, the DUP also agrees to support the Government on legislation pertaining to the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union; and legislation pertaining to national security.

Support on other matters will be agreed on a case by case basis.

The DUP agrees to support the Government in votes in the UK Parliament in line with this agreement.

Working arrangements

In furtherance of these arrangements, the Government and the DUP will work together to ensure the necessary support can be established by both parties to fulfil these arrangements. A co-ordination committee will be convened for this purpose, chaired by the Government. The parties will agree the modus operandi of this committee. The Northern Ireland Secretary will not sit on this committee.

Policy Agreement

Both parties have agreed that there will be no change to the Pensions Triple Lock and the universal nature of the Winter Fuel Payment.

The parties agree to meet the NATO commitment of spending 2 per cent of GDP on the armed forces. Both parties are committed to the Armed Forced Covenant and to its implementation throughout the United Kingdom.

Both parties agree to work together to consider options to support the highly successful reserve forces in Northern Ireland.

The parties recognise the importance of the agriculture sector to Northern Ireland and the opportunities for growth that exist. Agriculture will be a critical policy area during the EU exit negotiations.

The parties agree to continue to commit the same cash total in funds for farm support until the end of the Parliament. Further discussions will take place on the future framework for farming support.

Devolved government in Northern Ireland

As set out in its General Election manifesto the Conservative Party will never be neutral in expressing its support for the Union. As the UK Government we believe that Northern Ireland’s future is best served within a stronger United Kingdom. We will always uphold the consent principle and the democratic wishes of the people of Northern Ireland. The Conservative Party will never countenance any constitutional arrangements that are incompatible with the consent principle.

Bothe parties will adhere fully to their respective commitments set out in the Belfast Agreement and its successors and, as the UK Government, will continue to govern in the interests of all parts of the community in Northern Ireland. The UK Government will continue to support close co-operation with the Irish Government, and work with them in accordance with the Belfast Agreement and subsequent agreements, while recognising that the ultimate responsibility for political stability in Northern Ireland rests with the UK Government.

The DUP recognises the need for early restoration of inclusive and stable devolved government in Northern Ireland and affirms its commitment to agreeing the formation of an Executive. The UK Government will continue to work with the Northern Ireland parties and the Irish Government towards this objective, in full accordance with the three-staged approach.

Both parties agree on the need to recognise the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland’s history and the effect this had on the economy and people from all parts of the community. Both parties agree the need for additional support for Northern Ireland as set out in the annex to this agreement.

It is the joint desire of both parties that the elements and provisions of this agreement will play a positive role in the efforts to re-establish devolved government for the benefit of all people of Northern Ireland.

The DUP will have no involvement in the UK Government’s role in political talks in Northern Ireland. It will continue to participate as a party entitles to form part of an Executive following the last Assembly election as other parties do.

Duration of the agreement

The agreement reached will remain in place for the length of the Parliament, and can be reviewed by the mutual consent of both parties. After each Parliamentary session both parties will review the aims, principles and implementation of this agreement.