November 19, 2018 / 8:49 PM / 25 days ago

Northern Irish DUP fail to back UK PM May in finance bill votes

LONDON, Nov 19 (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.

May agreed a draft arrangement to leave the European Union last week, but DUP leader Arlene Foster 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.

While the government still won the votes, commentators said that the move had a deeper significance given the tensions between the DUP and government.

“This is to put the government on warning that the party is close to ripping up the “confidence and supply” agreement that allows Theresa May to govern,” ITV Political Editor Robert Peston said in a tweet.

“This is a serious blow to the PM’s authority.”

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

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