The DUP deal is a vulnerability for the Tories. Whatever justifications ministers come up with for the extra money for Northern Ireland, there’s no getting around the fact that it wouldn’t be going there if Theresa May didn’t need the DUP’s support to be PM.
But in the House today, Labour failed to land any blows on the arrangement. Damian Green’s debating points were effective and neither Emily Thornberry nor the SNP were nimble enough to trip him up.
Nigel Dodds, the DUP’s Westminster leader, joked that in the interests of transparency he might publish the DUP’s correspondence with Labour and the SNP at the start of the 2010 hung parliament, which rather took the wind out of the opposition benches sails. While Crispin Blunt reminded the House that the DUP had got almost as much out of Labour in 2008 for voting for 42 days detention as they have out of the Tories.
I suspect, though, that this deal will cause problems for the government for as long as it continues. Every time the government says there isn’t money available for something, critics will point out that they found money for Northern Ireland to get the DUP on board.
Now, defenders of this confidence and supply arrangement in government argue that the alternative to it would be far worse than this, a government living hand to mouth in the Commons. But the deal is a reminder that, post-election, the Tories are operating in a world of least worst options.