The DUP yesterday showed they are close to breaking their confidence and supply agreement with the Conservatives which today has forced the Tories to accept every single Labour Party amendment to a piece of crucial Finance legislation. The DUP yesterday abstained on a number of Conservative amendments to the finance bill and then went on to vote with Labour on an amendment.
Whilst the Labour Whips said the government has “in effect collapsed” the DUP say the party does not believe the move breached the confidence and supply arrangement as the amendments were “cost neutral” – and that is now over to the government to respond.
DUP Brexit spokesperson Sammy Wilson warned Theresa May needed to “keep her side of the bargain”.
“Since the government has not honoured its side of the bargain we tonight tried to spell out some of the consequences of that,”
The DUP has previously said it will review its deal with the Conservatives if the draft Brexit plan passes through Parliament but is clear at present the Conservatives do not have a working majority in the Commons even as a united force.
If May is unable to change the deal with the EU there is a real possibility that the confidence and supply arrangement could end. This would leave Theresa May’s government in an extremely precarious position and vulnerable to a vote of no confidence that would force a General Election. This means the Prime Minister would need to fend off votes of no confidence from both within the House of Commons and her own party.
Tonight John McDonnell revealed this evening that, rather than face defeat on the crucial ‘confidence’ legislation the government decided to accept every single Labour amendment.
Certain votes in the House of Commons are ‘effective confidence votes’ meaning that if they lose them they are effective votes of no confidence. Votes such as finance bills, budgets and the Queen’s speech are examples of such votes.
The DUP agreed on a confidence and supply deal with the Conservative following the 2017 snap general election but this defiance could end that deal. The DUP agreed to support the government in all votes on budgets and finance as well as voting against any no-confidence motions.
This rebellion is in response to Theresa May’s Brexit divorce deal. The DUP believe it has crossed their red lines and will divide Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. With May being unlikely to be able to change these details it looks like the confidence and supply deal is dead, giving Labour a chance to win a no-confidence vote and force a general election.
Analysis from Iwan Doherty- Editor in Chief
Labour will try and spin this as the government collapsing and while it is an embarrassment that many Tory MPs will be infuriated by the government remains standing, just. Save the champagne for another day.
The DUP have voted with Labour as retribution for May’s draft deal with the EU, as they threatened to, the and it is unclear whether the confidence and supply agreement will last. Without the DUP support, the government is unable to pass any legislation without opposition support.
Labour bringing down the government over the Brexit impasse is a real possibility.
Labour will need to win a vote of no confidence to bring down the government and while the DUP clearly want to warn the government about the consequences of their Brexit deal it is unclear whether they will get into bed with Labour when it is led by 2 supporters of Irish republicanism.
Labour will most likely wait till after May’s Brexit deal is voted down before calling a vote of no confidence, this is when they have the highest chance of succeeding. A successful vote with no following confidence vote would send the UK to the polls for the 2nd time since Article 50 was triggered without a deal with the EU.