Isabel Hardman

DUP pushes a hard bargain as talks with Tories stall

DUP pushes a hard bargain as talks with Tories stall
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Tomorrow Theresa May will present a Queen’s Speech that doesn’t have the formal support of a majority of the House of Commons. Her negotiations with the DUP still haven’t concluded, with party sources this afternoon warning the Conservatives that they won’t be ‘taken for granted’ and criticising the way May and her team have conducted the negotiations.

It’s almost as though the DUP know a thing or two about how to negotiate: certainly a thing or two more than Theresa May and her team. Party sources even dropped hints about the implications of these negotiations for May’s success in Brussels, hitting one of the most sensitive spots for the Tory leader.

Now, it’s perfectly likely that the Tories haven’t approached these negotiations in the best way. They are certainly also rather less canny than those they are negotiating with, who will push and push until they get the best deal for their party.

But one reason for the Tories to relax a little is that the DUP would never want to create circumstances which would enable Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell to get anywhere near Downing Street. And so they will not push so far as to trigger another election. No-one wants another election: Tories whose majorities plummeted two weeks ago fear they’ll lose their seats as a punishment from the electorate for another poll, Labour MPs who held on think that the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn actually in power rather than running the Opposition will frighten their voters, the SNP are no longer in the ascendancy and the Lib Dems are just starting up a new leadership election. But given Corbyn and McDonnell’s political sympathies in Northern Ireland, the DUP certainly wouldn’t want to risk another vote.