The deal is done, Theresa May and the DUP have finalised their confidence and supply deal that will give the Conservatives the (tiny) majority that they need to govern. But the deal has cost them an astounding £1 billion, that is £100 million for each DUP vote — it seems a steep price to pay.
But what other choice does Theresa May have? Already forced to delay her Queen’s Speech following a disastrous general election campaign that left her short of a majority, she was forced to make a deal at any cost. She can’t risk Parliament voting down her Queen’s Speech, as another election would spell disaster for the party given that the Labour poll surge has continued long after the election.
Her position as party leader is secure for now; a Survation poll from just after the election found that none of the Tory leadership replacing Theresa May would improve the Conservative’s position. The poll showed that Boris Johnson, David Davis, Michael Gove, Amber Rudd, or Philip Hammond taking over as leader would make people less likely to vote Tory.
Whilst May has been weakened and has been forced to reappoint figures like Hammond and Gove, she is still the most popular option for the party, so the leadership will have to tow the line for now. Her main concern will be the 19 LGBT Conservative MPs who are unlikely to be particularly happy with the DUP coalition — given the DUP’s record on LGBT rights. Labour will likely be trying to lure them into opposing the Queen’s Speech and would only need a handful to rebel to put May’s government in jeopardy. However, they will know that a failed Queen’s Speech could put their seat and position in government at risk.
Despite the huge unpopularity with the public and a massive social media backlash, the deal is necessary. The Conservatives have already ploughed ahead with Brexit and have refused to consider that the election result may not be the mandate for the ‘Hard Brexit’ that they continue to push for. This has ruled out the possibility of doing a deal with any other party in the commons.
One hundred million a vote was what it cost Theresa May to hang onto power for a little while longer. The real question is: how much time has she bought herself?
By Josh Hamilton, Editor-in-Chief at www.thejist.co.uk