Britons have signed a petition against Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to form a coalition government with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in Northern Ireland following her party’s disastrous loss in the general elections, calling on her to step down.
The petition, signed by over 300,000 in just 12 hours on Saturday, calls for May to resign after she lost her parliamentary majority.
According to the result of the general election held on Thursday, Conservatives won 318 seats in the 650-member House of Commons and the main opposition Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn clinched 262 seats.
May’s party is short of the 326 it needed for an outright majority and fairly down from the 330 seats it had before the election.
After the Tories lost parliamentary majority, May said she would seek to form a minority government by a “confidence and supply” agreement with the DUP.
The DUP is controversial in the UK for its stances on abortion, climate change as well as alleged links with unionist militants.
A partnership between the Conservatives and the DUP could potentially destabilize the peace process in Northern Ireland because the DUP is backed by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), a violent nationalist paramilitary group.
The UDA backed the DUP in this election by issuing a statement in support of the party’s South Belfast candidate Emma Little Pengelly, “strongly urging” people to back her.
“It is now 2017 – paramilitaries should not even exist, never mind be giving ringing endorsements of political candidates,” said former Northern Ireland Justice Minister David Ford.
Concerns were further fueled when it emerged that the DUP’s leader Arlene Foster met with the UDA’s chief during the election campaign, just 48 hours after the murder of a local man in a supermarket car park.
The coalition of the Conservatives and the DUP has many more worrying implications for the peace process between the Catholic and Protestant parties.
Former Labour Party spokesman Alastair Campbell, whose government got the Good Friday agreement signed in 1998, said May was threatening the peace process by securing an alliance with one of the parties the UK government is supposed to be mediating between. “She is putting that at risk with a sordid, dangerous distasteful deal,” he said.