Willie Rennie warns Tory-DUP deal would cause “lasting damage to UK”

Lib Dems warn against divisive Tory pact with Northern Irish unionists

OURCRY OVER Tory attempts to cling to power with support from the hard-right Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) presents a threat to the UK - according to Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie. 

The Tories, who failed to win a majority in the General Election last week (8 June), have since tried to woo the ten DUP MPs into a pact to back key votes in the House of Commons. But the DUP’s historical links to loyalist violence in the North of Ireland and extreme social conservative views have provoked anger that they may gain a crucial role in UK-wide decisions.

Rennie, whose party leadership has placed itself firmly against a second independence referendum but support a second vote on EU membership, warned that the deal would do “lasting damage to [the] UK”.

“Taking sides in the precarious politics of Northern Ireland could have significant ramifications for the whole of the UK including Scotland.” Willie Rennie

Rennie added: “Theresa May's decision to grasp onto the DUP reveals the depth of her desperation to cling onto power and the fundamental weakness of her position.

“Taking sides in the precarious politics of Northern Ireland could have significant ramifications for the whole of the UK including Scotland. The UK Government should be operating as an honest broker in Northern Ireland but that is impossible if it is in hoc to one of the protagonists.

“The constitutional politics of the UK are closely intertwined with instability in one part directly impacting on other parts. We all work hard to deal with the issues that arise but that job will be made so much more difficult with this DUP Conservative arrangement. 

“There is rightly anxiety about the DUP’s views on abortion and gay rights and these views must not have an impact on government policy. Yet it is the constitutional threat that could have even wider and more immediate consequences. This is why Theresa May should abandon her embryonic alliance with the DUP before it does real and lasting damage."

There has long been a tense relationship between the political conflict of Northern Ireland with communities in Scotland, where groups affiliated to loyalist and republican movements organise and take part in public marches. 

A petition calling for May to resign over her attempts to get the DUP on board has received over 728,000 signatures. It points, in irony, to May’s warnings of a “coalition of chaos” before the election - and lists some of the anti-gay, anti-abortion rights views of the DUP. 

“Theresa May should resign. This is a disgusting, desperate attempt to stay in power,” the petitioners add.

Picture courtesy of Policy Exchange

Check out what people are saying about how important CommonSpace is: Pledge your support today.