Mrs. May's early election call, two years earlier than normal, was intended to shore up her vote in anticipation of the start next week of the formal Brexit talks. May wants Great Britain to pull out of the European Union completely and afterwards begin negotiating new trade arrangements. She lost the gamble, along with her majority in the House of Commons. Now she must rely on the support of the fringe Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (DUP). The support of their ten members would allow the Conservatives to continue in office, but that support comes at an extremely dear cost.
Political junkies with long memories might remember the Northern Irish politician, Rev Ian Paisley, who for decades fermented unrest in Ulster and promoted a campaign of bigotry which would make Donald Trump look like a raving socialist. Paisley was the founder of the DUP.
Under the DUP, Northern Ireland remains staunchly to the right of the rest of the United Kingdom. It has consistently vetoed all efforts to permit same sex marriages in the country, despite the fact it is legal everywhere else in the UK as well as in the Irish Republic. It is a self-identified “pro life” party which opposed abortion but seeks to reinstate the death penalty. They supported the Brexit vote in order to, as one party MP said, “get the ethnics out of Northern Ireland.”
These are the bedfellows Mrs. May is willing to join in order to retain power in Westminster. It's a relationship I'm not sure more centrist Conservatives are willing to enter.
Frank Likely is a retired Anglican minister and past president of the Springhill and Area Chamber of Commerce.