The Conservative Party, despite not achieving a majority, are trying to form a deal with the DUP.
That was the response from many once the news was out. The DUP are a socially conservative party in Northern Ireland – pro-Brexit (although generally want a ‘softer’ Brexit than the one many believed Theresa was heading for) and have some slightly outdated views when it comes to things such as homosexuality. Another interesting note, during the Troubles they had several connections to the Ulster Resistance – an organisation linked to several hundred deaths.
Theresa warned of a coalition of chaos, she warned of having a person who historically had ‘IRA-links’ in government. Now we have the Conservatives making a deal with the DUP, a party which historically has terrorist links, in order to form a majority. This isn’t an episode of The Thick of It – this is the point where reality has become parody. The issue comes that by associating herself with such a questionable party, and a party that doesn’t even have seats on the mainland, will do nothing to help her win the support of the electorate who have lost faith in her leadership. Many of her critics will see this as a power grab; a way of her ensuring she can still keep her power, regardless of who it’s with.
One question many are asking is: why is Theresa still here? She ultimately failed her objective, much like Cameron did with his EU referendum, so in one sense it seems only reasonable she should resign. However if she stepped down and a Tory leadership election went underway, that would put Corbyn in a strong position to form a government. Even more importantly, Brexit talks are due to start in a matter of days and it’s understandable that there needs to be a stable government for the process. But where do we expect those talks to go?
Theresa has a poor mandate. Even with the support of the DUP, the Tories will have a lousy majority of two, even less than they did before the election. It is questionable whether such a government could last a full five years and many predict another election before the end of the term. What happens if Brexit talks start and then the government begins to crumble, sparking another election? There are already rumours that Boris is aiming the scope onto Theresa and I’m sure there are other senior figures looking to get a good shot.
There are two main reasons for this mess: the first is that Theresa triggered Article 50 and then called a General Election – a decision which is almost unjustifiable. If she wanted a stronger government, this should have been done before we set a date for leaving the EU, to avoid the risk of this sort of situation happening. If we had not triggered Article 50 at this point, it would allow us to sort out a confident, assertive government which knows what sort of Brexit deal it intends to get before negotiations start.
The second reason is that the Tories forgot that the Leave side only won with a small majority of 52%. Before the referendum we had a country divided on the EU and the result of the referendum has made those divides bolder. Theresa giving the impression that she wants a full-fat Brexit rather than a semi-skimmed one means she has alienated a huge amount of the electorate. While her rhetoric has caused the death of UKIP, the price she has paid is she has become less appealing to the middle-of-the-road EU supporting voters.
No one has found a magic formula for how we can make Brexit work for everyone and one probably doesn’t exist. Yet we are faced with no choice but to start our au revoir with Brussels despite the fact that we are not ready. There is much pressure on Theresa to get a good deal when we cannot as a nation agree on what a good deal even looks like. It is becoming increasingly likely that she will deliver a deal which doesn’t satisfy anyone.
We are the first country to leave the EU. With a not so strong and stable government, the uncharted waters we’re sailing into look rough.