Conservative-DUP talks: ‘The future’s orange’ jokes Ian Paisley Jr as Theresa May meets with Arlene Foster

Negotiations underway to determine whether Theresa May will be able able to secure parliamentary majority for key votes

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP Ian Paisley Jr has quipped "the future’s orange” as crunch talks between his party and Theresa May take place with a view to striking a deal that would allow her to keep her job.

The Prime Minister is meeting DUP leader Arlene Foster and deputy leader Nigel Dodds in Downing Street for discussions that are expected to finalise the arrangement between the two parties.

The deal is likely to take the shape of a “confidence and supply” pact that would see the DUP support the Tories in key votes such as the Queen’s Speech and budget, but not formally take part in government. 

Ahead of the meeting, Ms Foster met with her party’s ten MPs in Westminster. She declared: “The future’s bright”.

That prompted Ian Paisley Jr, a current DUP MP and son of the party’s founder, Ian Paisley, to add: “The future’s orange.”

The joke is a reference to a slogan for the phone company Orange, which for many years used the strapline “The future’s bright, the future’s Orange”.

Mr Paisley’s comment also refers to the Orange Order, a Northern Irish organisation of unionists, of which some DUP MPs are members.

In talks that will determine whether Ms May is able to rely on a parliamentary majority for key votes, the DUP is expected to lay out a series of conditions for its support. 

These are likely to include increased funding for Northern Ireland and moves to soften Brexit.  

The party is also opposed to Conservative manifesto pledges to scrap the triple lock on pensions and stop wealthy pensioners receiving winter fuel allowance.

Ms Foster and her colleagues are also likely to put pressure on the Prime Minister to back down on plans to force elderly people to cover the cost of their own social care.

Why the DUP is so controversial

Ms May has come under heavy criticism for allying herself with a party that holds ultra-conservative views on a number of issues, including gay marriage, abortion and the death penalty.

Some commentators - including former Prime Minister John Major - have also claimed that a deal between the Conservatives and the DUP puts the Good Friday Agreement at risk.

“People shouldn’t regard [peace] as a given. It’s not certain, it’s under stress, it’s fragile,” Sir John said.

He urged the Prime Minister to pursue a minority government without “the baggage” of an agreement with the DUP.

Under the terms of the Agreement, the British Government is expected to be display “rigorous impartiality” in disputes in Northern Ireland and is responsible for mediating between the Northern Irish parties.

There is currently no government in Northern Ireland after power-sharing arrangements collapsed in January following reports of a financial scandal involving Ms Foster.