November 19, 2018 / 8:54 PM / 2 years ago

Northern Irish DUP fail to back May in finance bill votes

FILE PHOTO - DUP Leader Arlene Foster talks to the media at a news conference at Stormont in Belfast, Northern Ireland, November 2, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

LONDON (Reuters) - The small Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which supports British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government, failed to back her in several votes on a finance bill on Monday after being vocally critical of her draft Brexit deal.

But the party’s Brexit spokesman, member of parliament Sammy Wilson, told the BBC it did not consider the votes a breach of their confidence and supply agreement.

May agreed a draft arrangement to leave the European Union last week, but the DUP has said that May should demand a better deal, arguing the current proposal could undermine the integrity of the United Kingdom.

Under the terms of the DUP’s arrangement with May’s Conservative party, the Northern Irish party has agreed to back May’s government on, among other things, “the budget; finance bills; money bills”.

But on Monday, the DUP abstained on the first two votes on the Finance Bill, and eight DUP lawmakers voted against the government in a third vote, on an amendment to the bill proposed by the opposition Labour party.

The government still won the votes and Wilson said the votes were a warning rather than a breach of the deal as they were not intended “to damage the government fiscally,” the BBC reported.

“The prime minister has undermined her own authority with her own party and with our party by blatantly breaking promises about what she would deliver in the Brexit deal with the European Union,” Wilson was quoted as saying.

“Since the government has not honoured its side of the bargain we tonight tried to spell out some of the consequences of that,” he said.

Reporting by Alistair Smout, additional reporting by Conor Humphries in Dublin, Editing by William Maclean and James Dalgleish

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