Theresa May accused of putting peace in Northern Ireland at risk with DUP deal

Theresa May has struck a deal with the DUP to prop up her government (Rex)

Theresa May has sent her chief whip Gavin Williamson to Belfast for formal talks with the DUP, following the Conservatives’ costly election gamble that left them short of a Commons majority.

A formal coalition could be on the cards, with the far-right unionist party even offered ministerial roles, according to some reports.

But Mrs May has been accused of putting the Northern Ireland peace process at risk in a bid to prop up her Government after the humiliating election.

Last night on the BBC Question Time, former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell, whose government helped secure the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, questioned the impact of any deal on the peace.


“She is playing fast and loose, on Brexit; on Margaret Thatcher’s greatest achievement, the single market; and now Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s greatest achievement, which is the peace in Northern Ireland,” he said.

“She is putting that at risk with a sordid, dangerous distasteful deal.”

It comes as Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair’s peace process aide, warned May not to “undermine” the peace process in order just to “stagger on”.

Theresa May is trying to persuade the ten DUP MPs to enter into a formal coalition agreement with the Tories, as opposed…

Posted by Robert Peston on Saturday, June 10, 2017

Earlier this year, the Northern Ireland assembly was suspended after the DUP and Sinn Féin failed to reach a power-sharing agreement.

If no solution is found, direct rule from Westminster will follow. However, any alliance with the DUP would mean the government would be unable to take a truly non-partisan approach.

According to ITV’s Robert Peston, Mrs May is trying to persuade the ten DUP MPs to enter into a formal coalition agreement as opposed to a “confidence and supply” arrangement.

“A coalition would be much better than a looser alliance”, one senior minister reportedly said. “We don’t want the DUP demanding money for this or that project they fancy every time we need them to support us in a vote. That would be deeply unstable”.

A spokesperson for Number 10 said: “The chief whip is in Belfast holding talks with the DUP on how best they can provide support to the Government.

“We will not be providing a running commentary.”

Today, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, the prime minister’s joint chiefs, both handed in their resignations following the disastrous campaign.

The pair quit after warnings that Mrs May faced a leadership challenge from within the Conservative Party as early as Monday if she didn’t sack them.

According to a former communications aide to Mrs May, Mr Timothy and Ms Hill were “destructive and arrogant” and created a “toxic” atmosphere at Number 10.