Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Analysis: An election pact makes sense... but it will cost the Treasury

Plea: David Cameron
Plea: David Cameron

David Cameron and the DUP won't admit it, but sounding out a possible pact makes sense for both parties.

The Prime Minister privately realises his chances of an outright majority next May are slim. The Tories are currently 22 MPs short of the 326 they need and the odds are they will struggle to bridge that gap come next May, a view backed up by the recent local election results.

Although another pact with the Lib Dems is still seen as the most likely outcome, there is discontent among some sections of the Conservatives at the prospect of entering a second term.

That brings others into play and, as the fourth largest party at Westminster, the DUP are the next obvious turning point.

In the right circumstances, they have a powerful hand, as demonstrated last August when they effectively sank the prospect of UK involvement in military action in Syria after none of their eight MPs backed intervention in a crunch vote.

Five DUP MPs voted against action while another three were absent from the debate, where MPs rejected strikes against Bashar al-Assad's regime by a 13-vote margin. A pact would allow a government to get key legislation such as the Budget and Queen's Speech through Parliament.

If Mr Cameron comes calling, then there will be a price.

This would likely include protection from some spending cuts.

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