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The Democratic Union Party (DUP) has made it clear that it will not back the Theresa May’s Brexit deal, with the Northern Irish party saying that it will vote against the draft agreement in the house of commons next month.
To make matters worse, the DUP has also that it will not support the government’s finance bill sending a clear signal to May that she can no longer expect support from the party and calling into question an alliance that is growing increasingly tenuous.
The Northern Irish party’s refusal to support the government comes after its senior members, including leader Arlene Foster, expressed their anger of May’s EU withdrawal agreement – especially with regards to its proposal for an Irish border backstop.
A shaky alliance
The Conservative party relies on the DUP’s 10 MPs to support it in the House of Commons where it does not control a majority in the wake of the June 2017 general election that saw the Tories lose ground to the Labour party.
In exchange for the DUP’s loyalty the Conservative government agreed to allocate around £1 billion in financing for Northern Ireland.
But the unlikeliest of political alliances is starting to show signs of strain at a time when May can least afford it, with the prime minister facing a coup from backbench MPs that could see the Tory leader face a vote of no confidence.
In an interview on BBC’s Newsnight on Monday DUP MP Sammy Wilson said: ‘Tonight we took the view that since the government had broken one of the fundamental agreements that they have with us, namely, that they would deliver Brexit for the people of the United Kingdom as a whole and, secondly, would not separate Northern Ireland constitutionally or economically from the United Kingdom, that we had to do something to show our displeasure.’
‘The abstentions were designed to send a political message to the government… we have an agreement with you but you have to keep your side of the bargain, otherwise we don’t feel obliged to keep ours,’ he added.