View all newsletters
Sign up to our newsletters

Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
26 October 2019

Why no Conservative MPs are at this year’s DUP conference

In 2018, Philip Hammond and Boris Johnson competed for Arlene Foster's affections. A year on, her party stands defiantly alone.

By Patrick Maguire

“Correction to your headline: the DUP has lost its influence.” That was the message I received from a government minister after I wrote on Tuesday evening that Boris Johnson had lost the DUP

True to their word, Arlene Foster’s 10 MPs have voted to obstruct the prime minister’s Brexit deal at every time of asking since it was struck in Brussels last week. When it comes to Europe, at least, there is no chance of the DUP riding to his rescue.

But the very fact of their abandonment by Johnson reflects another truth — that ministers have calculated that there is a route to passing the withdrawal agreement without them. 

Both interpretations are correct. The government has, for now at least, lost the confidence of its nominal confidence and supply partners. But the government, and with it the Conservative Party, clearly believes that to be a necessary — if vaguely regrettable — evil. 

The parlous state of relations between the two parties is borne out in the overwhelming flatness of the DUP’s conference this year. Under a year ago, it gathered in the same Belfast hotel and hosted not one but two Tory heavyweights: Philip Hammond, then chancellor, and Boris Johnson, then a backbench malcontent. 

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. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.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 New Statesman Media Group 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

Much has changed since, not least the standing of Hammond and Johnson — and the latter’s stance on a border in the Irish Sea. Just as notable is the complete absence of any government representative, or, indeed, non-DUP MP at this year’s conference. 

Arlene Foster and her deputy, Nigel Dodds, instead castigated the Tories in their conference speeches. They were offered a ministerial speaker by the government, but declined. Privately, party officials are not even attempting to disguise their contempt for Johnson and his Cabinet.

So have the Conservatives lost the DUP, or have the DUP lost their influence over the Conservatives? In either case, its conference has made clear that their working relationship will not be repaired as long as this withdrawal agreement remains government policy.

Content from our partners
Individually rare, collectively common – how do we transform the lives of people with rare diseases?
Future proofing the NHS
Where do we get the money to fix the world's biggest problems? – with ONE

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. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.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 New Statesman Media Group 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