UK's May strikes deal with Northern Ireland party for Brexit support

The party agreed to support her agenda in exchange for increased infrastructure spending and funding for social programs in Northern Ireland.
By Lucas Rowe | Jun 28, 2017
British Prime Minister Theresa May no longer has her conservative majority, but she could still cobble together enough parliamentary votes to proceed with Brexit after an accord this weekend with the Democratic Unionists (DUP), a Northern Ireland party. The party agreed to support her agenda in exchange for increased infrastructure spending and funding for social programs in Northern Ireland.

"This agreement will operate to deliver a stable government in the United Kingdom's national interest at this vital time," said Arlene Foster, DUP leader.

The DUP has 10 MPs in the U.K. House of Commons, and the agreement commits them all to back May and her Conservative Party in any votes on Brexit and national security. The deal also commits the U.K. to continuing to spend 2% or more of its revenues in defense, as the NATI charter calls for.

The Conservative Party now holds 317 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons, having lost 13 in this year's election. An extra 10-vote bloc would give May a narrow majority to steer legislation through to enactment.

May's part of the bargain includes 1 billion in extra funding for Northern Ireland infrastructure development, healthcare, and education over the next two years. The U.K. government will also guarantee a 2.5% rise in the state pension every year and will boost assistance for military veterans.

Some senior Conservative MPs had concerns about the terms of the deal, in particular that it would complicate established power-sharing agreements between the U.K. government and Northern Ireland's government and thus risk undermining the 1998 peace settlement that ended anti-UK violence in the region. But Foster said that a second deal with May later could resolve any issues over power sharing.

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