Theresa May-DUP Deal: Hard Brexit Under Threat?
The UK election results have shocked markets and British politics. Theresa May’s Conservative party won, but she has lost parliamentary majority. This means that the future is uncertain, with Hard Brexit and Theresa May’s call for a mandate to negotiate with the EU being trumped by the unexpected popularity of Jeremy Corbyn and Labour. The value of Sterling dropped since May’s failure to secure a majority, triggered uncertainty just before Brexit talks. Markets were also confident that a Tory victory was certain.
Theresa May has suffered “catastrophic losses as her election gamble humiliatingly backfired—leaving a hung parliament just 10 days before Brexit talks are due to start,” the Daily Mail stated this morning. May has been facing calls from her own MPs as well as her nemesis, Jeremy Corbyn, to assess her position. A Conservative MP said, “She needs to go,” while George Osborne called the election result “catastrophic.” Tory MP, Nigel Evans, said the party had “shot ourselves in the head.” Tory MP Anna Soubry also suggested that May should “consider her position.” She was disappointed after the shocking results: “It is bad. She is in a very difficult place … It was a dreadful night. I’ve lost some excellent and remarkable friends. This is a very bad moment for the Conservative party and we need to take stock and our leader needs to take stock.”
Corbyn said that British politics has changed and called for May to resign. He stated: “Politics has changed. Politics isn’t going back into the box where it was before. What’s happened is people have said they’ve had quite enough of austerity politics.” He added: “the Prime Minister called the election, she wanted a mandate. The mandate she has got is lost Conservative seats, lost votes, lost support and lost confidence. I would have thought that was enough to go and make way for a government that will be truly representative of the people of this country.”
May, who appeared in her constituency of Maidenhead, gave an emotional speech in which she vowed to offer stability for the Brexit talks. She said: “If the Conservative party has won the most seats and most votes then it will be incumbent that we will have that period of stability and that is what we will do.”
Nigel Farage said he would return to politics, having “absolutely no choice,” so that he makes sure Brexit goes as planned. He declared that “We may well be looking down the barrel of a second referendum.”
If the Conservatives secured a majority, 326 of 650 seats in the House of Commons, then they would have the right to form a government. Since, this isn’t what has happened, we are going to have a hung parliament. A hung parliament is a rare phenomenon in the UK, but it has happened after the 1974 election and in 2010. In such a scenario, the leader of the party with the most seats can form a government by establishing a coalition with other parties. A hung parliament can also mean another alternative whereby smaller parties decide to support the largest party and take part in government.
What will happen now is that May will try and form a government and a coalition of other parties, the most obvious being the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in Northern Ireland. This will make a hard Brexit even less likely, since the DUP leader, Arlene Foster, has talked against a hard Brexit and a hard border with Ireland. But others are saying that the DUP isn’t an ideal choice because they are climate change deniers, anti-abortion and against same-sex marriage.
May strikes deal with DUP
At the moment, it has been confirmed that Theresa May has struck a deal with the Democratic Unionists to form a government and will be seeing the Queen at 12.30pm to make sure that the deal is in place. According to a DUP source: “We want there to be a government. We have worked well with May. The alternative is intolerable. For as long as Corbyn leads Labour, we will ensure there’s a Tory PM.”
Theresa May was in discussions with the DUP during the night after it was obvious that there was a possibility of Jeremy Corbyn becoming PM. The DUP said that this won’t be a coalition but a confidence and supply deal, with the 10 DUP MPs offering “their support on key votes so she gets things through." “The Prime Minister and her team appear to be trying to get out on the front foot with this - she wants to hold her ground,” a DUP MP said.
Theresa May will make a public statement after meeting the Queen.