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What is confidence and supply and how does it work?

As alternatives to a formal coalition are being considered, we outline what a confidence and supply arrangement entails.

By New Statesman

Confidence and supply is an agreement between political parties that is looser than a formal coalition.

A smaller party (or number of parties) makes a deal to back a larger party in government on a vote-by-vote basis, in exchange for policy concessions.

They agree to support the larger party’s budget and other such key votes that would otherwise potentially bring a government down if they didn’t pass. The Queen’s Speech is another example of this. They could also abstain.

This arrangement allows a minority administration to govern without conceding ministerial positions to the junior partner or partners, and in turn, gives smaller parties the opportunity to achieve some of their manifesto commitments without having to sign up wholesale to the leading party’s programme.

The “confidence” applies to the agreement to back the governing party on no-confidence votes, and the “supply” refers to the bills required for the party in power to receive money to enable it to implement its policies. It’s a common misconception that “confidence” means the trust between parties, and “supply” the concessions given to the smaller party/parties.

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Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team.
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