DUP withdraws threat to vote down Budget and promises to give Theresa May 'another chance' over Brexit deal
Prime minister warned there will be 'other opportunities' to potentially topple her from power – if red lines over the Irish border are crossed
However, it warned there would be “other opportunities” to defeat the prime minister – and potentially topple her from power – if its red lines over the Irish border are crossed.
The DUP thrust Ms May’s future into doubt earlier this month with a dramatic threat to join with opposition parties to defeat the Budget resolutions, on Thursday.
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Budget votes are viewed as an issue of confidence in a government – meaning defeat would have triggered calls for a general election.
But Sammy Wilson, the DUP’s Brexit spokesman, said the party now believed it was winning the argument in the cabinet to prevent new regulatory checks between Britain and Northern Ireland.
“We will be supporting the government in the Budget vote on Thursday,” he told The Independent.
“It would be reckless for us, in the absence of a clear picture of where the prime minister is going on this, to simply vote against the Budget to teach her a lesson.”
However, Mr Wilson said the government’s position was still “ambiguous” on new checks in the Irish Sea, adding: “Theresa May knows the consequences if she does that.
“There will be other opportunities, including the Finance Bill that follows the Budget, where she will need our support.”
The decision to pull the immediate threat also follows Philip Hammond’s decision to hand Northern Ireland a £1bn pot in Monday’s Budget statement.
Belfast will receive an inflation-busting increase of £320m in its block grant, £350m for its “City Deal” scheme, £300m towards integrated education and £2m to revive the city centre after a fire.
Mr Wilson added: “if you look at what’s in the Budget, the pledges made in the confidence-and-supply arrangement are being acted upon.”
The £1bn allocation has drawn criticism that the government is effectively bribing the DUP to stand by the Tories in the Brexit battles to come.
The Brexit talks remain deadlocked over the Irish border, despite Ms May remaining willing to allow regulatory checks between Britain and Northern Ireland, but away from ports.
The impasse follows the EU rejecting her insistence on a “backstop”, to prevent Irish border checks, keeping the entire UK – rather than simply Northern Ireland – in the EU custom’s territory.
Cabinet ministers have also threatened to resign unless there is a time limit on the backstop, fearing the UK will otherwise be locked in permanently.
The Conservatives had been confident that the DUP’s distrust of Jeremy Corbyn would prevent it doing anything that brought Labour closer to power.
But Arlene Foster, the DUP’s leader, has said its backing is “party to party”, rather than with Ms May herself – suggesting the DUP might be willing to bring her down.
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