Now, the people in the DUP would be literally the last people on the entire island of Ireland to admit that they were Irish, but even they can’t turn away from their leprechaun roots when Theresa May throws a pot of gold ($1.3 billion worth of it) right at their hairy hobbit feet.
Talk about a best case scenario for the DUP. Not only are the Conservatives in government, which is what they would have wanted anyways, but now they’re in government only because they’re in the good graces of Arlene Foster and her band of former UUP misfits. They now have a say in every policy position the Tories could take, not that they differ very much on issues that actually concern the DUP MPs and, more importantly, the DUP voters. And finally, they get to bring home a giant syringe of infrastructure steroids.
As happy as Arlene must be, Theresa May must feel like a real chump. With 10 MPs in Westminster, each DUP vote ends up being valued at…beep boop beep……… 103 million clams. And that’s only over the course of 2 years, at which point Arlene will come back knocking on 10 Downing Street with some sort of fancy version of a tin cup, implying that she wanted another handout while still rubbing the last exorbitant handout right in Theresa’s face.
This is a big good-news-bad-news situation. For Northern Ireland, the economic stimulus is all around good news. On the other hand, the DUP are clearly even more brazen going into the Stormont talks, which have been extended to Monday and will probably take even longer than that. The DUP won’t budge on an Irish Language Act, and Sinn Fein won’t budge on the RHI scandal, so unless both sides start making concessions somewhere Northern Ireland is going to be without a government for a minute and then some.
The Tories, especially the pro-Brexit wing of the party, are also faced with a good news and bad news combo. The DUP are even further to the right on Brexit than they are, so the Tories won’t have to deal with any of the left’s “soft Brexit” shenanigans. And since the DUP are a Northern Ireland party, there are a lot of issues about which the party and its voters don’t care a whole lot, so the Tories won’t have to deal with that much interference from their Parliamentary bedfellows.
On the other side of the coin, since the DUP don’t have that much influence on major policy matters, they’re basically only in it for the money, which means either the “fiscally responsible” party is going to have to waste more money on bridges in Strangford or they’ll have to call another election. And I can almost guarantee that Theresa May will not be calling an election for quite some time, certainly not now when her party are down several points to Labour.
And since it’s 2017 and everything has to be about Trump, I might add that the Tories and the DUP have committed to meeting the NATO requirement of spending 2% of the UK’s GDP on defense. That’s a bit of good news for the President, who has had a rough go of things today.
As for the main opponents of the DUP and Tories, Sinn Fein and Labour, things could be a lot worse. Jeremy Corbyn’s party has a TON of ammo with which he can attack the Tories for dealing with the DUP. This isn’t super likely, but it’s possible that something comes out about the DUP’s connections to loyalist paramilitaries that’s bad enough for the Tories to distance themselves from the DUP; it would have to be huge, like something about an ongoing relationship between the DUP and terrorists, so I wouldn’t bank on it. A man can dream, though.
As for Sinn Fein, they haven’t really lost anything from this. They might be the biggest winners here, after all. Since the Tories are the Tories, the fact that they’re in cahoots with the DUP means that their NI policy is going to be the same as it ever was and will try to keep the North in the Union for as long as possible. Besides, Sinn Fein doesn’t care that much about Parliament because they’ve literally never even gone once (look it up). So the only thing that really changed for SInn Fein is that they’ll have half of a billion dollar pot of gold to throw around when they take their spot in Stormont, which is a nice twist ending (not really the end but whatever) for this whole crazy situation.