Response from Anne Milton to my open letter regarding the DUP

June 14, 2017 10:20 AM
By Zoe Franklin

I was very pleased yesterday to receive a response from Anne Milton MP to my open letter regarding the Conservative alliance with the DUP. Many have asked me to let them know what reply I received - I am therefore including it below.

I am glad that Anne Milton has given assurances "that there will be no compromises on any of the key issues of LGBTQ and equality, women's rights or climate change and environmental policy". However I remain very concerned at the cost (financial and otherwise) to our nation of the Conservatives 'confidence and supply' arrangement with the DUP, in particular the potential damage it could cause to the Northern Ireland peace process. Like many others I will be watching as the coming months unfold and remain committed to speaking out on behalf of Guildford and Cranleigh's residents on this, and other, issues.

Before leaving you to read the content of Anne Milton's response I want to highlight her statement that "Conservatives in government introduced same sex marriage". This is only partially true. In reality the Equal Marriage Act was one of the key successes of the Liberal Democrat/Conservative coalition from 2010-15. It was in the 2010 Liberal Democrat manifesto and was a continuation of the party's deep commitment to LGBT+ equality. (You can find out more about the Lib Dem's history in terms of LGBT+ equality here.)

Full Text of Response from Anne Milton to my letter regarding the DUP - read the original letter here.

Dear Zöe,

Thank you for your letter. Many people have contacted me recently and shared their concerns about the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

As you will know, there are 650 MPs in the House of Commons. One is the Speaker, who is neutral, and there are 7 Sinn Fein MPs, who, as Irish nationalists, have never taken their seats in Parliament. That leaves 642, meaning that any government needs to secure the support of at least 322 MPs to command a majority in the House of Commons.

The Conservative Party currently has 318 MPs, four short of the required number. The Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party (SNP) have both ruled out going into coalition with the Conservatives. Even if the Labour Party was able to construct a coalition involving the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party, their combined total would only be 314 MPs, eight short of a majority. This means that they too would need to work with the DUP in order to form a government.

The Prime Minister is not seeking to form a coalition with the DUP, as David Cameron did with the Liberal Democrats in 2010. Instead, the two parties are discussing an arrangement based on 'confidence and supply', which means that the DUP would support the Conservatives if there was a motion of 'no confidence' in the government, and also support the budget through the House of Commons. If a government fails to pass its budget or loses a vote of no confidence, then a general election has to be called.

While I was honoured and delighted that the people of Guildford and Cranleigh re-elected me as their MP, there is no getting away from the fact that the results were disappointing for the Conservative Party and there will be a far-reaching review on why we didn't do better. However, with the most seats and most votes, we have a duty to form a Government. At this critical time, our country needs a government, and the failure to create one will lead to another general election within the next few weeks, which I do not believe is what people want.

I note the concerns that many constituents have raised about the DUP and I am quite clear that there are views that the Party holds that do not represent what I believe to be right. Although abortion laws are not perfect I believe abortion should be available to women. I believe that we should continue to reduce the impact of climate change which has a significant impact not just in this country but around the world. We will continue to promote and champion equal rights including those of the LGBTQ community. Conservatives in Government introduced same sex marriage and, earlier this year, passed 'Turing's law' to remove historic convictions for consensual acts.

The Prime Minister's two key staff have left and a new Chief of Staff, Gavin Barwell has been appointed. He will bring considerable experience of the Party to the post and have an important role in reflecting on what we need to do in the future. I will continue to stay involved in discussions with other Government Ministers and would like to be clear that there will be no compromises on any of the key issues of LGBTQ and equality, women's rights or climate change and environmental policy.

The situation in Northern Ireland with regard to power sharing is extremely complex. This will have been uppermost in the minds of those negotiating with the DUP, and the need to find a solution. I know the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is currently involved in extensive talks with the parties in Northern Ireland.

Thank you again for taking the time to write to me.

My best wishes,

The Rt Hon Anne Milton MP

Member of Parliament for Guildford

Minister of State, Department for Education