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DUP backs Theresa May's vision of Brexit, not Philip Hammond's

The DUP and Conservatives are trying to prop up a government. Credit: PA

The announcement that the Queen's Speech is next Wednesday is about the only good thing to have happened to Theresa May since she squandered David Cameron's majority in the Commons last Thursday.

Because it is confirmation of a blood oath by the DUP's 10 MPs to sustain the Tories in power - the Tories, NOT her - and keep Labour out, for the next five years.

Now to be clear, I am not saying it is remotely likely this government will survive five years.

I give it two years at best.

DUP leader Arlene Foster was in Downing Street this week. Credit: PA

But I am saying the DUP has committed to do its darnedest to prop up the Conservatives until 2022 - including by more-or-less integrating the two parties' respective whips offices (which manage how their MPs vote, to minimise the risk of defeats).

There is a double bonus for May in the deal, which is that a DUP source told me - and was very keen to be quoted on this - that his party completely backs her vision of Brexit.

He wanted to knock down speculation that the DUP would like the UK to stay in the customs union, the arrangement that obviates the need for border checks on goods leaving the country.

He said the DUP was 100% committed to the UK leaving the single market AND the customs union - which is music to the ears of May and her Brexit minister David Davis, and a slap to the Chancellor Philip Hammond.

Where the DUP has helped to encourage an amendment to May's recent election manifesto is that means testing of the winter fuel allowance for the elderly has been dropped, and the triple lock on pension rises retained.

Permission for new grammar schools is also out of the Queen's Speech, but that's despite the DUP - which likes grammars - and simply because quite a lot of Tory backbenchers (hello Nicky Morgan) don't like them.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond. Credit: PA

Anyway, all of this will be confirmed when we get the formal legislative programme on Wednesday.

But it will be Tuesday or Thursday that we will get a short statement about what the DUP has extracted by way of dowry for Northern Ireland from the marriage of convenience.

You can assume there'll be lots of lovely investment in public services and infrastructure. So at least one part of the UK will enjoy an end to austerity!