The DUP has said it is abstaining on every finance bill vote tonight in order to fire a warning shot across the Tories’ bows that they are close to abandoning the ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement that is propping up Theresa May’s minority government.
In other words, on Philip Hammond’s Budget.
On only two previous occasions has a government lost a vote on its Budget – and in each case the government resigned and the Opposition took over. This is a convention rather than a rule and the Tories have shown every willingness to disregard every convention, tradition and practice in order to cling to power – just as they have been more than ready on several occasions to ignore the rule that a minister must resign for misleading the Commons and the country.
In one of the two votes tonight, the Tories won by thirty-one votes – but in the next, the government scraped through by only five votes. More are scheduled for this evening – and there have been whispers that the DUP might go a step further and vote with Labour rather than abstaining.
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