Analysis: Theresa May risks future trouble with DUP deal

DUP leader Arlene Foster. Picture: PA
DUP leader Arlene Foster. Picture: PA
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Six months ago, the woman who can decide the UK’s future was fighting for her own political life having been accused of burning £400m of public money.

Arlene Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, was badly burned in the ‘cash for ash’ scandal surrounding a renewable heat subsidy scheme that she oversaw.

Now the DUP have become kingmakers for the whole UK, prompting a spike in Google searches that at one point crashed the party’s website.

The party regularly supports the Tories, but its MPs will demand more influence over Brexit and could extract additional investment for Northern Ireland. A bigger role supporting the government could damage the UK’s status as an impartial broker in Northern Ireland’s troubled power-sharing agreement.

But the DUP’s stances on other could cause Theresa May real problems. Northern Ireland is the last part of the British Isles where gay marriage is prohibited, and keeping it that way is a DUP “red line” for any power-sharing deal. The DUP also oppose any change to Northern Ireland’s strict abortion laws, which see thousands of women travel to the UK for terminations.

While not official party policy, DUP MP Sammy Wilson previously said the public had been “conned” into spending money to tackle the issue while serving as Northern Ireland environment minister. And a former education spokesman, Mervyn Storey, is a ‘young earth’ creationist who believes the world is less than 10,000 years old.

The deal risks embarrassment and discomfort for Tory backbenchers and ministers.