(CNS): Prime Minister Theresa May will be depending on the ten DUP members of the British parliament from Northern Ireland to prop up the Conservative government after she lost the Tory majority in yesterday’s election by eight seats. May was hoping to shore up the previous slender majority and create a mandate for herself and what was looking like a hard Brexit deal. But despite having a massive lead in the opinion polls when she called the general election, it dwindled as the campaign went on.
It is now just ten days before she is scheduled to sit down and begin the real talks to extricate the UK from the European Union, but May now has to negotiate without the definitive backing she had hoped to get from the British public.
The Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, had been tipped to be decimated, but with a relatively high turnout at the polls boosted by younger voters, Labour made a significant recovery, picking up 31 seats to take 261 and well over 40% of the nationwide vote. The Tories meanwhile, ended up with 318 seats, down 12, despite having a significant recovery in Scotland at the expense of the Scottish Nationalists. To get a clear majority, they needed 326 seats.
However, speaking outside Number 10 Downing Street Friday, May said that, with the largest number of seats, the Conservative Party was the only one that could form a “legitimate” administration. She pointed to their “friends and allies” from the Democratic Unionist Party as being the members who would help her steer the UK through the Brexit talks. But there were no specifics about how she would work with the ten DUP members, only that it was the loosest of arrangements.
While the Democratic Unionist Party, which is the main pro-British union party in Northern Ireland, has historically tended to support Conservative governments, the small, but now powerful, party is not aligned with May’s policies. They will be seeking a much softer Brexit, as Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union and will be pushing for a soft border between the six counties and the Republic of Ireland.
But they also favour more centrist policies and had a manifesto that is at odds with the Tories on pensions and social support for the elderly.