Sat, 30 September 2023

Newsletter sign-up

Subscribe now
The House Live All
Press releases

John Major: Tory-DUP deal could spark fresh violence in Northern Ireland

Emilio Casalicchio

3 min read

Former Prime Minister John Major has warned that the proposed Tory-DUP pact could wreck the Northern Ireland peace process.

In an extraordinary intervention, the former Conservative leader said "hard men who are still there lurking" in the Province could return to violence as a result of the deal.

He said a Tory minority government which was not reliant on the DUP to prop it up was "an option well worth considering".

His comments came as Theresa May began formal talks with DUP leader Arlene Foster in Downing Street about a so-called "confidence and supply" deal which would see the party's 10 MPs support the Government in key votes.

Concerns have been raised about the possible impact on the Good Friday Agreement if the Conservatives are seen to be favouring one of the governing parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Mr Major said he was “concerned, wary and dubious” about the Tory-DUP deal for a number of reasons - but put the concern about fresh violence front and centre.

“The last thing anybody wishes to see is one or other of the communities so aggrieved that the hard men who are still there lurking in the corners of the communities decide that they wish to return to some form of violence,” he told BBC Radio 4.

“We really need to do everything we conceivably can to make sure that doesn’t happen and that does require an impartial UK government.”

He said a return to the Troubles was “some way down the road” but argued it was best to consider what “could happen” in the future.


Elsewhere, Mr Major urged the Government to look at Brexit from a cross-party perspective and look beyond parliament to determine the best route forward.

"The views of the 48% cannot be brushed aside as the hardliners wish,” the Tory ex-leader and Remain campaigner argued. "It’s time to end the soundbites, the spin and the posturing on Europe.”

And he warned that any extra funding for Northern Ireland agreed in the Tory-DUP deal could infuriate Scotland and Wales and look like "cash for votes".


Mrs Foster arrived at Downing Street for talks with Mrs May this afternoon, declaring: “The future’s bright.”

DUP MP Ian Paisely Jnr appeared to add “the future’s Orange” -  an apparent reference to the protestant Orange Order.

Last week Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny tweeted that he had spoken to Mrs May about the possible ramifications of the proposed deal for the Good Friday Agreement.

PoliticsHome Newsletters

PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe


Political parties