Theresa May has struck a confidence and supply deal with the the Democratic Unionist Party in an attempt to secure her position as prime minister and keep the Conservative Party in power.
The agreement stops short of a full coalition after several Tory MPs expressed concerns about the DUP’s stance on social issues such as gay rights and abortion.
May has been forced to seek the help of a minor party in order to remain in power after she fell short of the 326 needs to form a majority government. The DUP has 10 MPs and their support gets the Conservatives over the line.
A confidence and supply deal means the DUP will pledge to back the Tories on key votes such as the Queen’s Speech, due on June 19, and the Budget.
No.10 said in a statement this evening: “We welcome this commitment, which can provide the stability and certainty the whole country requires as we embark on Brexit and beyond.”
Jeremy Corbyn told the Mirror that he has not given up trying to form a government himself. “I can still be prime minister. This is still on,” he said.
May spent much of the campaign warning a vote for Corbyn was a vote for a “coalition of chaos” with Labour governing alongside the SNP and the Lib Dems.
However it is the prime minister herself who now finds herself reliant on a minor socially conservative party from Northern Ireland to let her govern. Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson said it was “grubby deal for a coalition of chaos”.
The narrow majority secured by the deal means parliamentary votes will be on a knife edge as the prime minister can not afford for even a handful of her own Tory MPs to oppose her.
Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader who helped the party win 13 MPs in Scotland on Thursday, has said she sought assurances from May that LGBT rights would not be diluted.
Tory MP Sarah Wollaston said on Twitter before the deal was announced that she would protect LGBT rights, support the right for women to choose and would oppose any teaching of creationism in schools. “If any of that is a condition of confidence and supply it simply won’t work,” she tweeted.
Another Conservative MP, Tom Tugendhat, said: “I joined a party that introduced equal marriage, backs civil rights and defends freedom of faith. Those principles won’t be compromised.”
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said May “needs to make the terms of her confidence and supply deal with the DUP clear to the British people immediately”.
“The actions of this Government will have profound implications for the Brexit negotiations and the future of our country. At such a critical time, the prime minister must be clear with the people about the deal she has stitched up with the DUP behind closed doors,” he said.
What is ‘confidence and supply’?
Confidence and supply arrangements allow minority governments to be sure it will win key votes.
In this case, the DUP’s 10 MPs will supply votes to the Conservatives to give the government confidence to pass its Queen Speech and Budget. With 317 MPs, Theresa May is some way off the 326 MPs needed for a majority. The additional 10 votes gets her there.
Conservative chief whip Gavin Williamson went to Belfast on Saturday for talks with the Northern Ireland party. Downing Street said details of the arrangement would be discussed at a Cabinet meeting on Monday.
It is a looser arrangement than the formal coalition agreement between David Cameron and Nick Clegg that saw the Lib Dems take up ministerial positions in the government.
Earlier today, May’s joint chiefs of staff Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill resigned amid intense Tory criticism in the wake of the snap election which backfired spectacularly.
The BBC reported May had been told if Timothy and Hill were still in post on Monday she would face a leadership challenge.
No.10 announced Gavin Barwell, the former Tory housing minister who lost his seat at the election, had been appointed to replace them as Downing Street chief of staff.
In a resignation statement on the Conservative Home website, Timothy acknowledged one of his regrets was the way May’s social care policy, dubbed the “dementia tax” by critics, had been handled.
The prime minister was forced to perform an unprecedented U-turn within days of the publication of the Tory manifesto by announcing there would be a cap on social care costs, something that had been absent in the original policy document. Many Tory candidates blamed the policy for driving voters back into the arms of the Labour Party.