Politics

Theresa May signs agreement with Northern Ireland's DUP

Agreement to enable Theresa May's Conservative Party to govern the country despite losing its majority in parliament.

May, right, stands next to Foster as paperwork is signed at 10 Downing Street [Daniel Leal-Olivas/Reuters]

Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservatives have signed a deal with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that will allow them to govern Britain after losing their majority in a general election earlier this month.

The Conservatives have 317 seats in the 650-seat parliament after the June 8 election and need the support of the DUP's 10 members of parliament to be able to govern.

"An agreement has been signed," the UK prime minister's spokesperson told AFP news agency.

Arlene Foster, the head of the DUP, said she was "delighted" that a deal had been struck, and that the details of the deal will be published later.

Discussions between the two began immediately after the election and centred on a "confidence and supply" deal in which the DUP would support the government in any confidence votes and to pass budgets.

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Foster's party wants tangible benefits for Northern Ireland in terms of jobs and investment in order to offer its support.

Al Jazeera's Neave Barker, reporting from Britain's capital, London, said that under the agreement, Northern Ireland will receive a $1.3bn fiscal package.

"This will go on everything from hospitals to roads but also to shoring up their position in northern Irish politics," he said.

"This will not be an easy journey for May or for this Conservative government. They will be under scrutiny from start to finish."

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, attacked the deal, saying it had "not been done in the national interest, but in the interest of" May and the Tories' political survival.

DUP leaders had previously said that an agreement with the Conservatives will offer stable British government.

But critics, including some members of the Conservatives, had objected to any kind of alliance with the DUP because of some of its views, including opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion.

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Some of its representatives have also been criticised in the past for homophobic comments, climate-change-denial statements and sectarian rhetoric.

Enda Kenny, Ireland's former prime minister, has cautioned that a deal with the Protestant and pro-British DUP could upset Northern Ireland's fragile peace.

However, May, in a statement shortly after the agreement was signed, said that the DUP will back the British government on all Brexit and national security legislation.

"The DUP will support the Conservative government on votes on the Queen's speech, the budget, and legislation relating to Brexit and national security," she said.

"The agreement makes clear that we remain steadfast to our commitments as set out in the Belfast Agreement and its successors, and in governing in the interests of all parts of the community in Northern Ireland."

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies