Belfast Telegraph

DUP's Nigel Dodds coy on future of confidence deal following Tory Commons defeat

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has refused to be drawn on the future of his party's confidence-and-supply deal with the Tories, following a dramatic day in Parliament.

On Monday, Boris Johnson lost his majority in the Commons when Phillip Lee defected to the Lib Dems. He then suffered a further defeat when opposition MPs and Tory rebels wrestled control of Parliament business in a bid to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

Following the dramatic vote, which was passed by 328 votes to 301, the Prime Minister tabled a motion to call a snap general election, which will require two-thirds of MPs to vote in favour for a poll to go ahead.

The DUP's 10 votes have been propping up the Conservative Government for the last two years through their confidence-and-supply arrangement, effectively making Arlene Foster's party kingmakers in Westminister.

As a result of the Tory rebels turning their backs on the Government and voting with the opposition, however, they have had the whip removed, leaving the Conservatives with a significant shortfall for a majority, even with the help of the DUP.

On BBC Radio Ulster on Wednesday, it was pointed out to the DUP's Westminster leader Nigel Dodds that his party look set to lose their "position of power" in terms of the confidence-and-supply arrangement.

He replied: "If there is an election, then obviously a new Parliament will be elected. But one thing is certain - the DUP has proven it can deliver, that it can punch above its weight.

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"We are very, very clear that going into this election, if there is an election, in terms of Northern Ireland what is required is to ensure that we have a strong voice."

Mr Dodds added that it is "very, very difficult" to predict what will happen today in Parliament, but he expects there will be some "shenanigans".

MPs are set to vote on a bill to delay Brexit until January 31 if their is no deal with the EU, followed by a vote on whether or not to hold an early election.

The two-thirds majority required for a snap poll, however, is unlikely to achieved as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party would oppose the move unless a no-deal Brexit was taken off the table first.

Belfast Telegraph Digital