Brexit: Government forced to accept Budget changes amid DUP tensions

DUP MPs have heaped further pressure on Theresa May by once again refusing to back the government in a series of votes on the Budget.

For the second day in a row, the party abstained from voting on amendments to the Finance Bill, in protest at the prime minister’s draft Brexit withdrawal deal.

DUP leader Arlene Foster and Prime Minister Theresa May. The Parliamentary pact between their parties seems to be on increasingly shaky ground

DUP leader Arlene Foster and Prime Minister Theresa May. The Parliamentary pact between their parties seems to be on increasingly shaky ground

DUP MP Sammy Wilson said the move was intended to spell out to the PM the “consequences of not honouring her promises to Northern Ireland”.

The move throws into doubt Mrs May’s ability to maintain her governing majority in parliament.

Ministers were forced to accept a raft of opposition amendments to the Budget amid ongoing uncertainty over their minority government pact with the DUP.

Labour claimed Mrs May was “in office but not in power” and her government was “falling apart” after the Tories avoided triggering any Commons votes by supporting the four amendments.

They included SNP calls for a review of the public health effect of gambling and a review of the effectiveness of the government’s new tax avoidance measures.

Labour amendments approved included seeking a report detailing the impact of measures to require disclosure of information about certain cross-border tax arrangements under different Brexit scenarios.

Another asked for a review of the effects of the government’s new tax avoidance measures on households with different levels of income, on child poverty, people with protected characteristics and on a regional basis.

The government climbdown and unwillingness to force votes came after the DUP voted with Labour once and abstained five times during Finance Bill votes on Monday.

When asked if the DUP’s ‘confidence and supply agreement’ with the Tories was now over, Mr Wilson told the News Letter: “We have sent a warning to the government. It has broken its commitment that it made with the DUP that NI would not be treated differently from the rest of the UK.

“We are not prepared to support this deal and we will vote against it when it comes to the House of Commons.”

He said the strategy would not impact on the government’s ability to conduct its business, adding: “It is more of a political warning rather than having any financial consequences.”