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Britain’s Conservatives reach minority gov’t deal with DUP

BRITAIN’S CONSERVATIVES REACH MINORITY GOV’T DEAL WITH DUP

British Premier May's Conservatives signed a deal on Monday with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party that will allow them to govern.

The Conservative Party and Northern Ireland's largest political party the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Monday have reached an agreement that will make possible for Prime Minister Theresa May to continue to lead the country with a minority government.

The "confidence and supply" deal was signed after final talks between Theresa May and DUP leader Arlene Foster Monday morning, following two weeks of negotiations after the June 8 snap election that saw May losing the parliamentary majority.

Speaking after the deal was reached, the DUP leader Arlene Foster said it would allow Northern Ireland to keep various financial advantages such as triple lock for pensions, winter fuel payments for pensioners, defense spending at 2 percent and extending the armed forces covenant to Northern Ireland.

In return for the signed deal, Foster said there would also be a financial package worth £1 billion ($1.27 billion) and "new flexibilities" in terms of how an already committed £500 million can be spent.

The Conservative Party had turned to Northern Irish unionists who managed to remain the biggest party locally after winning 10 Westminster seats.

May had announced the snap election to extend her mandate for a "strong and stable" government before the start of Brexit negotiations. The official talks with the EU started last week.

Prime Minister May has described the deal as a "confidence and supply" deal -- an agreement to support her minority government in key parliament votes, including a vote of confidence on the new government's strategies, which were laid out last week in the Queen's Speech.

STABILITY
Sinn Fein, Northern Ireland's second biggest party, has said a deal between the central Westminster government and the DUP would breach the local government's impartiality as stated in the 1998 Belfast Agreement, which largely ended decades of violence and terror between pro-British Protestant unionists and Irish Catholics who seek a unification of Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland.

"The agreement makes clear that we remain steadfast to our commitments as set out in the Belfast Agreement and its successors, and in governing in the interests of all parts of the community in Northern Ireland," said May, guaranteeing government impartiality in a statement.

May said the agreement would now bring stability to the country.

"I welcome this agreement which will enable us to work together in the interest of the whole United Kingdom, give us the certainty we require as we embark on our departure from the European Union, and help us build a stronger and fairer society at home. In the interests of transparency, the full terms of this agreement have been published," she said.

In her statement, May urged the parties in Northern Ireland to form a new devolved government with only three days remaining before a deadline set by the Westminster government.

"Time is running short for the parties to come together and reach an agreement to reestablish a power-sharing executive by June 29," she said.

"I hope the parties will look beyond their differences and come together with a shared sense of common purpose to serve all communities in the best interests of Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland needs a functioning devolved government at this important time."

The previous administration in Northern Ireland had collapsed with the resignation of its Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness over a botched energy saving deal called RHI in January.

McGuinness, a key Sinn Fein figure, has died since and was buried in a high-profile funeral.

Meanwhile, Carwyn Jones, Welsh first minister criticized the deal, saying it was "outrageous" and "unacceptable" and that "all but kills the idea of fair funding for the nations and regions".

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