Cabinet briefed on plans for Government deal with DUP

Frederick Owens
June 14, 2017

May is set to meet with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland on Tuesday to cobble together a deal to ensure her minority government can get its Queen's Speech through Parliament.

Mrs Foster arrived with colleague Nigel Dodds and waved to reporters in Downing Street but refused to be drawn on whether she would agree to a deal on Tuesday.

Before the government can do anything it must finalise a deal with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

"I'm the person who got us into this mess and I'm the one who will get us out of it", she said.

The talks with the DUP follow May's apology to Conservative rank-and-file lawmakers in a meeting Monday which signaled she would be more open to consultation, particularly with business leaders demanding answers about the details on Britain's departure from the European Union.

The PM also faced calls from Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson, whose influence has grown dramatically with the election of 13 Tories north of the border, to pursue a softer Brexit with greater focus on the economy and more cross-party input. The Evening Standard, edited by ex-Treasury chief George Osborne, is reporting that Cabinet ministers have initiated talks with Labour lawmakers.

"The parliamentary arithmetic is such that we are going to have to work with everyone", he said.

Pressed on the reports, Environment Secretary Michael Gove declined to deny it.

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The DUP leader is nearly certain to ask for greater investment in Northern Ireland as the price of a deal.

May's weakness means she must now listen to all shades of opinion on Brexit as she goes into Britain's most complex negotiations since World War Two.But May faces a hard balancing act: Divisions over Europe helped sink the premierships of Margaret Thatcher, John Major and David Cameron, and many of her lawmakers and party membership support a sharp break with the EU."The Tory civil war on the EU which has ripped it apart since the Maastricht rebellions of the early 1990s, and which the referendum was supposed to solve, is now raging again", said Chris Grey, an academic who specialises in Brexit at Royal Holloway in London. Some involved in the Irish peace process are alarmed because the 1998 Good Friday peace accords call for the British government to be neutral in the politics of Northern Ireland.

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.

British officials held "talks about talks" with the European Union's Brexit man in Brussels but actual negotiations, scheduled to start in a week's time, might be delayed by political upheaval in London.

"My preoccupation is that time is passing, it is passing quicker than anyone believes because the subjects we have to deal with are extraordinarily complex".

"I can't negotiate by myself", he added.

He also pointed out that three months after Article 50 had been triggered, formal discussions had yet to start.

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