The Conservative Party’s crucial £1Bn Confidence and Supply arrangement with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) appears to be in tatters tonight after the Northern Irish Party decided to abstain on a number of tonight’s critical Tory Finance bills in protest at Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal.

The startling move essentially leaves Theresa May’s party without a working majority in Parliament – meaning they would be unable to pass critical legislation – and brings the prospect of a General Election or a change of Tory leader far closer.

The Confidence and Supply arrangement agreed between the two parties specifically states that the DUP would support the government on all motions of confidence, including Finance Bills such as the ones voted on tonight.

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Therefore, the DUP’s decision to abstain on tonight’s crucial Finance Bills indicates that they are no longer willing to abide by the terms.

DUP Conservative Party Confidence and Supply Agreement
The crucial excerpt from the official Confidence and Supply Agreement between the Conservative Party and the DUP.

ITV’s Political Editor Robert Peston broke the news before tonight’s votes, tweeting:

“The DUP’s 10 MPs will be abstaining on pretty much every finance bill vote tonight, I understand. This is to put the government on warning that the party is close to ripping up the “confidence and supply” agreement that allows to govern. This is a serious blow to…

…the PM’s authority. And is all down to the DUP’s pessimism that the PM will amend in any significant way the EU Withdrawal Agreement that it sees as driving a regulatory wedge between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. And if Tory MPs see their industrial action as…

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…increasing the risk of an imminent general election, they will launch that long-planned and delayed coup against her pronto.”

And, right on cue, the DUP did indeed refuse to vote alongside the government:

Not only did the DUP abstain on a number of Tory bills, eight of their 10 MPs also decided to vote against the government on a Labour amendment:

Responding to the incredible development, Tory MP Nadine Dorries tweeted to say that “this was always going to happen“, and went on to state that:

“There are only two outcomes to this mess, a new PM or a general election. Thanks to the disasterous [sic] ‘17 election – another TM calamity – No10 does not hold the winning cards”

The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg summed up the enormity of the development, tweeting that:

“This really matters – DUP abstaining on Budget votes”

However, Kuenssberg also went on to state that, despite the clear breach of the deal, DUP sources have told her that tonight’s abstention was only a “warning” to the Tories, with the source reportedly going on to state that:

“Tory MPs need to realise that their jobs, their majorities, their careers depend on a good working relationship with the DUP and May doesn’t appear to be listening.”

However, whilst the DUP also reportedly ‘don’t consider tonight’s abstentions the end of the confidence and supply agreement‘, their actions clearly indicate that the relationship between the two parties is now on the brink of collapse.

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