DUP meet May in London as concern grows about implications for Stormont

DUP meet May in London as concern grows about implications for Stormont

Talks have been under way between DUP leader Arlene Foster and the Prime Minister over a possible alliance, as the Northern Ireland party's 10 MPs could help to prop up a Tory Government.

There has been "slower progress" in talks between the Conservatives and DUP, with an agreement unlikely to be announced on Wednesday.

"It's imperative that both Governments recommit to the word, spirit and implementation of the Good Friday Agreement if there is to be any prospect of re-establishing the Executive".

Sir John Major is one of those urging caution.

"And you never know in what unpredictable way events will turn out and we can not know if that impartiality is going to be crucial at some stage in the future".

Now that Britain has had a chance to glimpse what the DUP stands for (and is shocked that this state of affairs can still exist within the UK), I think popular and political representations should be made to Westminster to normalise our laws re same-sex marriage and abortion rights in line with the three other nations of the United Kingdom.

"People shouldn't regard it as a given".

A senior Conservative source said: "We are making a lot of progress".

She raised concern that such a deal could put the Northern Ireland peace process at risk as the Government would no longer be an "honest broker" in the Good Friday Agreement.

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It is thought Mrs Foster, despite being a Brexit supporter, could seek assurances from Mrs May that she will pursue a softer exit from the European Union, given Northern Ireland's 56% Remain vote and the DUP's desire not to see a return to a hard border with Ireland.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds, in Downing Street for talks with Mrs May on restoring powersharing in Northern Ireland, refused to be drawn on how the negotiations were progressing.

As well as this, Major suggested the DUP would be requesting money and this would be viewed by some as the government "paying cash for votes in parliament".

The faltering negotiations were paused over the General Election campaign.

With her tally of Conservative MPs slashed to 317 in last week's poll, Mrs May needs the backing of the DUP's 10 members to reach the 320 required for a working majority in the Commons.

A failure to gain support from the Northern Irish party would risk the Queen's Speech being voted down next week, and Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour will be pushing hard for that outcome.

The Tories and the DUP are considering an arrangement which would see the Northern Irish party back the government to get its Budget through and on confidence motions.

"I think that remains absolutely the right way to approach this and let's not forget we only have until the 29th June, so let's actually focus on the issues at hand rather than process, let's actually focus on getting people together for the best interests of Northern Ireland - that is what we are focused upon in supporting that work and supporting that effort because that is really how we will take Northern Ireland forward".

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