New Times,
New Thinking.

Tory MPs fear the price of a deal with the DUP is too high

An increasing number in Theresa May's party believe she should form a minority administration.

By George Eaton

A week after Theresa May promised to “work” with the DUP, no deal has been done. The horrific Grenfell Tower fire and the Northern Irish party’s desire to drive a hard bargain have stalled progress. Though no deal is better than a bad deal (to coin a phrase), the length of the negotiations has allowed Tory concerns to become entrenched.

Ever since May raised the prospect of an agreement with the DUP, Conservative MPs have had two fears: that a deal will further toxify their party’s brand (owing to the DUP’s stances on abortion and gay rights) and that it will make it impossible for the Tories to act as an impartial broker in the ongoing Northern Irish talks.

John Major, who rations his interventions carefully, amplified the latter this week when he warned that an agreement could put the “fragile” peace at risk.

Today’s Times/YouGov poll has heightened the Tories’ political concerns. It shows that only 8 per cent of the public have a “favourable” view of the DUP (48 per cent have an unfavourable one) and that only 27 per cent support a deal (48 per cent oppose one).

Conservative MPs, particularly those from the party’s One Nation wing, fear that a bad position among young and liberal voters will become worse. “It could wash away what’s left of Cameron’s legacy,” one told me.

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
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

May has belatedly called the DUP’s bluff by scheduling the Queen’s Speech for next Wednesday. Owing to progress made so far, the Tories are confident that the Northern Irish party will vote for their programme.

But this move has led some Conservatives to question whether a deal is required at all. Since the DUP’s ten MPs would never defy the government in a confidence vote (for fear of giving Jeremy Corbyn a route to power), some believe May should form a minority administration and seek support on a vote-by-vote basis. The costs, they say, far outweigh the benefits of an agreement: any deal is a bad deal.

Content from our partners
An innovative approach to regional equity
ADHD in the criminal justice system: a case for change – with Takeda
The power of place in tackling climate change