Tory-DUP alliance: 500,000 people sign petition against Conservative deal with the Democrat Unionists in 24 hours

Theresa May criticised over potential allies' record on women's and LGBT rights

Benjamin Kentish
Saturday 10 June 2017 16:38 BST
Who are the DUP?

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Louise Thomas

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An online petition condemning Theresa May’s plans to govern in coalition with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has received more than 500,000 signatures in one day.

At the time of writing, 503,880 people had put their name to the petition, which calls Tory attempts to make a deal with the DUP “a disgusting, desperate attempt to stay in power” and demands Ms May resigns after failing to secure a majority in the general election.

Speaking on the steps of Downing Street after the election result became clear, the Prime Minister said she would be attempting to form a minority government with the DUP supporting her in key votes on a “confidence and supply” basis.

Since then a team of senior Tories, led by chief whip Gavin Williamson, is said to have flown to Belfast for negotiations with the DUP, and it has emerged that the prospect of a formal coalition is on the table.

The Northern Irish party’s positions on issues including abortion, gay rights and climate change have led many to condemn Ms May for allying herself with it.

The petition states: “Theresa May said there will not be a coalition of chaos. She is now forming a minority government with the DUP.

“Here is a list of DUP stances, in case you need a reminder: The DUP want to make it legal to discriminate against anyone from the LGBT community. The DUP want children to be taught creationism as scientific fact.

“The DUP want no woman to have access to any type of abortion, and furthermore criminalise anyone offering or seeking that service.

The DUP want to bring back the death penalty

“Theresa May should resign This is a disgusting, desperate attempt to stay in power.”

The DUP is strongly opposed to gay marriage and has fought hard against making abortion more accessible in Northern Ireland.

Critics have accused the Prime Minister of putting party interest ahead of the national interest by partnering with the DUP at a time when the British Government is acting as mediator in an attempt to resolve the stalemate over power-sharing in Northern Ireland.

With talks due to take place between the DUP and Irish nationalists Sinn Fein, commentators have questioned how the Government will be able to play a neutral role if it is being propped up in Parliament by one of the two sides.

Tony Blair’s former communications director, Alastair Campbell, accused Ms May of “playing fast and loose” with peace in Northern Ireland.

"She is playing fast and loose, on Brexit, on Margaret Thatcher’s greatest achievement the single market and now Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s greatest achievement which is the peace in Northern Ireland”, he said on BBC Question Time.

"She is putting that at risk with a sordid, dangerous distasteful deal.

"We have a situation in the Northern Ireland right now where there has been a political crisis where the Government is the mediator with the Irish government between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

"How can our government be the mediator when the DUP are going to be part of our government?"

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