Published: Sun, June 11, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

UK leader May strikes tentative deal with N Ireland party

UK leader May strikes tentative deal with N Ireland party

British Prime Minister Theresa May reached an "outline agreement" with the ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party in order to be able to govern after a humiliating election that has left her authority in tatters.

May's Downing Street office had announced on Saturday that the "principles of an outline agreement" with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) had been agreed, only for the DUP itself to cast doubt on that account hours later.

"We welcome this commitment, which can provide the stability and certainty the whole country requires as we embark on Brexit and beyond", it said.

A senior Conservative lawmaker was in Belfast on Saturday for talks with the DUP, a spokeswoman for May's office said.

The DUP has proved hugely controversial in the past over the homophobic and sectarian views of some of its representatives.

But her party is deeply divided over what it wants from Brexit and the result means British businesses still have no idea what trading rules they can expect in the coming years.

While the to-and-fro between Downing Street and the DUP was unfolding, several British newspapers were reporting that some prominent Conservatives, including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit minister David Davis, were being urged by supporters to challenge May for the party leadership.

Johnson dismissed the reports as "tripe", tweeting late on Saturday that he was backing May.

Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour will invite parties to defeat the government and vote for Labour's manifesto in a "substantial amendment" to the Queen's speech, as well as suggesting the party would also kill off the "great repeal bill". "That's not a matter for me", she said.

Newspaper headlines saw her as just clinging on.

"The talks so far have been positive".

They were replaced by Gavin Barwell, a former housing minister who lost his seat in the election.

The resignations came as May worked to fill jobs in her minority government.

After confirming on Friday that her top five ministers, including finance minister Philip Hammond, would keep their jobs, May must name the rest of her team, who will take on one of the most demanding jobs in recent British political history.

The Conservatives won 318 House of Commons seats in the election, eight short of an outright majority.

Timothy said he took responsibility for the Conservative manifesto, including a plan for elderly social care that caused a backlash among core voters.

Some senior Tories had made the removal of Hill and Timothy a condition for continuing to support May, who has vowed to remain prime minister.

"I've never seen people more hateful in my life", he said.

"We had very good discussions yesterday with the Conservative Party in relation to how we could support them in forming a national government, one that would bring stability to the nation and those discussions continue".

On Brexit, the DUP supports leaving the European Union but opposes a return to a "hard" border with Ireland - which could happen if May carries through her threat to walk away from the talks rather than accept a "bad deal".

She said Brexit talks would begin on June 19 as scheduled, the same day as the formal reopening of parliament.

European Council President Donald Tusk had warned there was "no time to lose" in starting Brexit talks, after May on March 29 started the two-year countdown to ending Britain's four-decade membership.

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