‘DUP-Tory agreement is not dead just yet’, insists Wilson

Sammy Wilson has insisted the DUP’s confidence and supply pact with the Conservatives is not dead, despite his party helping to inflict a major blow to the government in the Commons.

Theresa May’s minority administration suffered a humiliating defeat on Tuesday, as it was held in contempt of Parliament for failing to publish its full legal advice on Brexit.

Sammy Wilson MP

Sammy Wilson MP

The historic vote came after the DUP joined forces with Labour, Liberal Democrats and SNP MPs to force the government to disclose the attorney general’s advice in full.

The publication of that advice yesterday led to a scathing assessment by DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds, who described it as “devastating” and said it made clear that the proposed backstop for the Irish border was “unacceptable” and must be defeated.

Despite the widening gulf between Mrs May’s government and the DUP, Mr Wilson was adamant that the agreement between the parties was not dead.

When asked about the current status of the confidence and supply pact, the DUP’s Brexit spokesperson told the News Letter that his party’s support would be contingent on the government’s actions in the days and weeks ahead.

He added: “We have already punished the government for the promises they have broken. We withheld our support on the finance bill, we helped bring about the vote on contempt of Parliament this week, and a range of other things.

“But just because of what they have done in the past doesn’t mean it will affect what we will do in the future. Our decisions going forward will be based on what they do in the future.”

While the East Antrim MP said he believed it was in the country’s best interests to continue to have a Conservative government at Westminster, he added: “But not at any price.

“We expect them to treat us properly and then we will prop them up accordingly,” he added.

“Our agreement is still in place but the government is under warning. It is not an unconditional agreement we have with them. If the conditions aren’t met then we have no qualms about not giving them our support.”

Earlier this week, Mr Wilson told the Press Association that if Mrs May’s deal successfully cleared the Commons next Tuesday, the confidence and supply deal would be “finished”.

Under the terms of the deal, agreed after Mrs May lost her Commons majority in last year’s general election, the DUP is supposed to back the government on budget matters and on confidence votes.