London (AFP) – British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives struck a hotly contested pact with a Christian fundamentalist party on Monday that will allow her party to govern after they suffered an electoral disaster.
The deal reached with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) was slammed by opposition parties as political bribery, amid concerns about its impact on the province’s delicate peace process.
It comes after May lost her parliamentary majority in the general election on June 8, which she had called to boost her support ahead of Brexit talks on Britain’s divorce from the European Union.
“I welcome this agreement which will enable us to work together in the interests of the whole United Kingdom,” May said in a statement.
Under the terms of the agreement, Northern Ireland will receive an extra £1.0 billion (1.1 billion euros, $1.3 billion) from the state over two years.
The DUP said it would back the government in any confidence votes and to pass budgets, as well as supporting it on Brexit-related legislation.
For any other parliamentary votes, the DUP — which has 10 MPs — said its support would be given on a case-by-case basis.
– ‘Not in national interest –
The pact’s first test in parliament will come with a post-election confidence vote expected on Thursday.
There was consternation from the opposition at the alliance, which has also attracted concern from some Conservatives over the DUP’s hardline stance on social issues.
“This Tory-DUP deal has not been done in the national interest but in the interest of @Theresa_May and the @Conservatives’ own political survival,” Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted.
Gerry Adams, leader of the republican party Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland, said the deal “provides a blank cheque for a Tory Brexit which threatens the Good Friday Agreement”.
That agreement in 1998 helped end decades of bloodshed between Northern Ireland’s Protestant and Catholic communities. Cooperation between Britain and EU member…