With no political party able to form a majority hold within the House of Commons following the 8 June election, it has fallen to an unlikely political group to decide the next ruling government.
Based in Northern Ireland, The Democratic Unionist Party – The DUP – are expected to back the minority Conservative Party in a new minority government that could be ratified by the end of Friday.
DUP MPs have already gone on record to say, “we would consider a supply and confidence arrangement to make sure Theresa May would have sufficient support to keep her in government”, and following May’s meeting with the Queen on Friday lunchtime, a system could be put in place to take the UK forward.
But who are the DUP, and what do they stand for? Here’s a quick breakdown of the Democratic Unionist Party.
They view themselves as centre-right
The DUP defines itself by their strong Unionist stance – believing Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK. The party was founded in 1972 in part by Dr Ian Paisley, and have since gone to to win seats at local, UK and European levels.
They are led by Arlene Foster
The DUP have been led by Arlene Foster since December 2015. A controversial figure, in May this year she was asked to rescind sexist comments aimed at Sinn Fein politician Michelle O'Neill.
They are known for their controversial politics
The largest Unionist party in Northern Ireland, the DUP have frequently come under criticism for their views on abortion, climate change and LGBT+ rights.
They are the biggest pro-forced pregnancy party in the UK, believing abortion to be a sin and a baby should be carried to term regardless of circumstance.
They are climate change deniers, with their chief whip describing the notion of human activity affecting weather as a “con”.
They have a hard line anti-gay marriage stance: a former MP commenting “Peter will not marry Paul in Northern Ireland”, while current DUP MPs have called gay people “repulsive” and likened them to child abusers.
Prominent members of their party are young Earth creationists, believing God made the planet and humans within the last 10,000 years.
They are in favour of a “soft” Brexit
Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU Referendum by a majority of 56% to 44%, but the DUP are said to be in favour of “soft” Brexit – leaving the EU but remaining in the single market so as not to incur a hard border with Ireland.
Speaking on the subject, Arlene Foster commented: “No-one wants to see a ‘hard’ Brexit, what we want to see is a workable plan to leave the European Union, and that’s what the national vote was about – therefore we need to get on with that.
However, we need to do it in a way that respects the specific circumstances of Northern Ireland, and, of course, our shared history and geography with the Republic of Ireland.”
Northern Ireland's Democratic Union Party manifesto on Brexit highlights aim for a "comprehensive free trade and customs agreement" with EU pic.twitter.com/PPCG2utJJ7— Open Europe (@OpenEurope) June 9, 2017
Their manifesto suggests they’ll be making some demands from the Conservatives
DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said the party would be a in a “very, very strong negotiating position” if the Tories asked for their help.
The DUP would most likely call for Northern Ireland to have greater sway in trade deals and further negotiations. Their campaign manifesto also included retaining the “triple lock” on pensions and cutting VAT for tourism businesses, so expect that to be a point of contention in any future negotiations.
(Feature image via REX)