General Election 2017: What Now?

The General Election on 9th June sprung up one or two surprises; not least the Conservatives failing to gain a majority as many predicted they would.

Following Prime Minister Theresa May’s failure to secure the 326 parliamentary seats needed to control Westminster, the UK faced a hung parliament.

Here, we look at the fallout and address questions on many voters lips.blokes

What is a hung parliament?

In order to form a government in the UK, a political party has to do sufficiently well in a general election to win an ‘overall majority’ of seats in the House of Commons.

An overall majority is half the 650 MPs in the House of Commons plus one, i.e., 326.

A hung parliament describes a state of a parliament where no single political party has an absolute majority of seats.

So, what happens next?

The present Conservative government will remain in office until it is decided with which party it will attempt to form a new government.

Since the election results filtered in, Theresa May has approached the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who won ten seats, to form an alliance.

Indeed, a Downing Street statement said a “confidence and supply” agreement had been reached with the DUP and would be put to the cabinet.

However, the DUP contradicted that announcement, confirming the talks were ongoing, not finalised.

Theresa May will meet DUP leader Arlene Foster this week.

Who are the DUP?

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) was formed in 1971 by Ian Paisley at the height of the Northern Ireland conflict. It is the largest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The DUP traditionally has links to protestant churches. It is historically strongly linked to the Protestant Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, which Ian Paisley founded.

And what is their political standpoint?

Evolved from the Protestant Unionist Party, the DUP favours Ulster unionism, meaning that they oppose a united Ireland and are supporters of Northern Ireland remaining part of the UK.

The DUP was the only party in the Northern Ireland Assembly to back ‘Leave’ during the Brexit campaign, but will not accept any deal re-instating a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

Anything controversial?

Well, yes.

The DUP opposes same-sex marriage and has fought to prevent it becoming legal in Northern Ireland, despite it being legal in the other countries of the UK.

Additionally, the party has campaigned against the legalisation of homosexual acts in Northern Ireland.

The DUP has campaigned strongly against abortion rights in Northern Ireland; leader Arlene Foster last year vowed to prevent pregnancy terminations being made available in the country.

The party once appointed climate change denier Sammy Wilson as its environment minister. Mr Wilson said it was a “con” to suggest humans had changed weather patterns.

Several of the DUP’s senior members are creationists, that is, they hold the religious belief that the universe originated “from specific acts of divine creation,” rejecting the scientific conclusion that it happened via natural processes such as evolution.

Where does the DUP stand on immigration policy?

Little mention is made of immigration in the party’s 2017 Westminster manifesto.

As part of what the DUP describes as ‘Getting the Best Deal for Northern Ireland from the UK leaving the EU’, the manifesto lists a number of priorities and objectives the DUP would like to see as part of the Brexit negotiations.

‘Effective immigration policy which meets the skills, labour and security needs of the UK’ is listed as one of those priorities.

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