Lord Trimble warns DUP of risks of dealing with Theresa May's government

Lord Trimble
Lord Trimble

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is taking a "significant risk" in entering a possible deal with the Conservative government, Tory peer Lord Trimble has suggested.

The peer, who was first minister of Northern Ireland from June 1998 until October 2002, said the party was "putting themselves in a position where they may have to take responsibility for unpopular actions".

However Lord Trimble, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party from September 1995 until May 2005 and one of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement, said the Government was also "taking a risk" .

Asked if talks put the Agreement at risk, he said "no", adding: "I think there's a fair amount of scaremongering going on."

Theresa May and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster were to hold critical talks later on a deal to prop up a Tory minority administration after the Government admitted the Queen's Speech could be delayed.

The Prime Minister will be desperate to get agreement from the DUP to back her legislative programme in the House of Commons or risk her Government falling.

Lord Trimble told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "There's no connection between the Agreement and the European Union, and Brexit and all the rest of it, people are just trying to grab this and argue as a stick to beat the Government with and I think it's really quite silly."

He added: "The Government has actually acted in good faith and I think again this is just being, trying, looking for something with which to attack the Government and what they should do is to concentrate on the realities of the situation."

Asked about the DUP's demands in any discussions of a deal with the Conservatives, and the Government's stance as an honest broker, he said: "That is the danger for the DUP, because the DUP by doing this are putting themselves in a position where they may have to take responsibility for unpopular actions, where they may suppose themselves to the sort of attack that you're making at the moment, so they are taking a significant risk in going in.

"Equally the Government is taking a risk by coming into a close relationship with them for obvious reasons."

Asked if any deal should go ahead, he said: "They are perfectly entitled to do it, this is not in any way different to what (James) Callaghan did in his arrangements with the liberals way back in the 70s, it's not any different to what Nick Clegg did."

Commenting on whether the talks might result in the restoring of power sharing institutions due to the threat of the alternative of direct power controlled from Westminster by a Government involved with the DUP, he said: "Well that might be a positive consequence, I think we should be grown up about this."

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