After the threat of legal action, MPs will now have a vote on the DUP deal—but we must remain watchful. This government likes to flout democratic normsby Gina Miller / September 12, 2017 / Leave a comment
When Theresa May announced she had successfully concluded her deal with the DUP, everyone breathed a hefty sigh of relief—that is to say, everyone on the Conservative and DUP benches did. May had secured herself a working majority in the Commons, and the DUP had got themselves an unexpected seat at the top table. Everyone was very happy.
Fast forward two months and, suddenly, that chorus of mutual back slapping and celebration has disappeared as quickly as the sunshine on a cloudy autumnal day.
Ever since that vainglorious deal was brokered between the PM and Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP, I’ve been pondering how the terms of the deal—specifically, the £1 billion payment to Northern Ireland, which formed the centerpiece of the agreement—would be implemented in a manner that was both accountable and appropriate due to its exceptional nature. Would it be simply “nodded” through buried within other budgetary matters or would it receive proper scrutiny?
Over the summer, I’ve been in regular lawyer-to-lawyer discussions with the government about the proposed basis for approving the £1 billion bung of taxpayers’ cash to the Northern Ireland economy in exchange for the DUP’s votes in the Commons.
I and my legal advisers had been wondering whether the government was intending to use its prerogative powers to make the payment. Little did we expect the government’s legal department to volunteer that the payment would require explicit parliamentary authorisation and, in addition to that, admit no decision had been yet made on timetabling.