LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative party today struck a power deal with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party for her minority government by agreeing to provide an extra one billion pound for the development of the province, ending the two week-long political uncertainty.
The two parties had been locked in talks since the June 8 general election threw up a hung Parliament and May entered Downing Street on the assumption that the DUP's 10 MPs would be backing the Tories in Parliament to make up for a lack of overall majority in the House of Commons.
Under the so-called "confidence and supply" arrangement, the DUP will back May on key votes, which would threaten the government's survival if they were lost.
"We share many values in terms of wanting to see prosperity across the UK, the value of the union, the important bond between the different parts of the UK," the British prime minister said.
"We very much want to see that protected and enhanced and we also share the desire to ensure a strong government, able to put through its programme and provide for issues like the Brexit negotiations, but also national security issues," she said.
The talks between the two parties, which have been ongoing for weeks, focused on financial support for Northern Ireland and the shape of Brexit.
According to the deal, there will be 1 billion pound extra fund for Northern Ireland over the next two years.
There will be total 1.5 billion pounds in funding - consisting of 1 billion of new money and 500 million of previously announced funds - to be spent over the next two years. The funds were expected to be used to boost Northern Ireland's economy and offer investment in new infrastructure, health and education.
DUP leader Arlene Foster said the "wide-ranging" agreement was "good for Northern Ireland and for the UK".
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, however, said the deal was "clearly not in the national interest".
A three-page document outlining the terms of the agreement has been published today with further details on the financial arrangement expected later.
The DUP said the deal would apply for the lifetime of the Parliament, scheduled to last five years, but would also be reviewed at the end of the current session in two years time.
"A confidence and supply agreement has been made between the Conservative & Unionist party and the Democratic Unionist party. This means the DUP will support the Conservative government on votes on the Queen’s Speech, the Budget, and legislation relating to Brexit and national security,” a Downing Street statement said.
May shook hands with DUP Foster as she and other senior party figures arrived at Downing Street today to finalise the pact.
The two leaders then watched as Conservative party chief whip Gavin Williamson and his DUP counterpart Jeffrey Donaldson signed the historic documents for the confidence and supply arrangement.
Speaking outside Downing Street, Foster said the agreement would bring stability to the UK government as it embarked on the Brexit process.
"Our aim in these negotiations has been to deliver for all of the people of Northern Ireland and the support measures which we are announcing will be to the benefit of all our people. We welcome this financial support of one billion pounds in the next two years," Foster said outside the Downing Street.
She said the Tories had now recognised the case for higher funding in Northern Ireland and will publish details of financial support to be made available in due course.
Both parties had agreed there will be no change to the pensions triple lock and the universal nature of the winter fuel payment across the UK, things May had planned to change in her election manifesto but later dropped.
The arrangement does not guarantee support on all legislation in the Commons, although it is expected the DUP will back the majority of the government's programme for the next two years after many of its more controversial policies were dropped.
The Tories fell nine seats short of an overall majority after May’s decision to call a snap election earlier this month backfired.
The support of the DUP will give the party an effective working majority of 13, as the other Northern Ireland party – Sinn Fein – do not take up their seven seats in Parliament and Speaker John Bercow and his three deputies – two of whom are Labour MPs – do not take part in votes.
Opposition Labour party have demanded details of how much the deal will cost UK taxpayers and what financial promises have been made.