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The DUP is a regional party from Northern Ireland. Extremely socially conservative, it is against same-sex marriage, abortion and otherwise comes off as a relic of the 19th century. The party is vehemently protestant, which poses problems for a postmodern UK. Critics call the DUP sectarian. The party, or at least its founding generation, has been accused of ties to extremists and terrorists.
This is no party London should get in bed with. Doing so calls into question the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland. London needs to remain neutral, which Theresa May cannot be while pledging a billion pounds and other concessions in exchange for the DUPÎ„s allegiance. The impartiality could have dangerous consequences in Belfast.
Support for Brexit?
May needs the DUPÎ„s support most of all for Brexit, especially in getting a deal through parliament. Even with DUP backing, it may be difficult: Just seven Tories need to change sides to bring the shaky Brexit house down and send May packing.
While the DUP is for MayÎ„s version of a hard Brexit, the party also wants to keep the border with Ireland open. This political oxymoron makes compromise hard and restricts MayÎ„s room to negotiate, leaving her talks in Brussels even more beholden to goodwill and DUP demands.
A strong and stable government?
Both supporters and opponents see MayÎ„s days in power as numbered, perhaps as soon as September or a few months thereafter. Her successor would inherit the DUP alliance. Such political uncertainty leaves London without a solid majority for concluding a halfway sensible Brexit deal. Other political and economic matters may be hard to agree on as well, given the DUPÎ„s fundamentalist character.
Theresa MayÎ„s political reality is far from the strong and stable government she envisioned when calling for early elections. Brexit opponents stand to gain from the governing chaos, which has opened doors long assumed to be closed. In London, all options seem to be back on the table.
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