Downing St made statement on DUP deal ‘in error’

11 Jun

In a move that could jeopardise her frantic attempts to remain as Prime Minister, the DUP is accusing Downing Street of announcing a deal on its MPs voting with the Tories in the Commons before an agreement has been reached.

After the PM sent her Chief Whip Gavin Williamson to Belfast to negotiate a deal to keep the Conservatives in power, No. 10 said the DUP had agreed to the principles of an outline agreement.

Senior Tories have expressed concern about a pact with the DUP and Arlene Foster. File pic
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Senior Tories have expressed concern about a pact with the DUP and Arlene Foster

But in a dramatic twist just before midnight on Sunday, Sky sources said No. 10’s account of the talks had been issued in error and the DUP had not yet reached any agreement with the Tories.

“The DUP today (Saturday) held discussions with representatives of the Conservative Party in line with Arlene Foster’s commitment to explore how we might bring stability to the nation at this time of great challenge,” the party said in its own statement.

“The talks so far have been positive.”

But the DUP added: “Discussions will continue next week to work on the details and to reach agreement on arrangements for the new Parliament.”


Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson: no roll-back over LGBTI rights

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Scottish Conservative leader’s DUP concern

Then, after midnight, Downing Street responded, saying: “The Prime Minister has tonight spoken with the DUP to discuss finalising a confidence and supply deal when Parliament returns next week.

“We will welcome any such deal being agreed, as it will provide the stability and certainty the whole country requires as we embark on Brexit and beyond.

“As and when details are finalised both parties will put them forward.”

:: Davidson: Tories need to ‘listen’ on Brexit

Some Tories, including the party’s Scottish leader Ruth Davidson, are unhappy about a deal with the DUP because of the party’s opposition to gay marriage and abortion and other policy clashes with the Conservatives.

In another move in her bid to cling to power, the Prime Minister has parted company with her two closest No. 10 aides, joint chiefs of staff Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill.

:: May’s top aides Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill resign


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Former May adviser: ‘PM is alone’

They have been replaced by Gavin Barwell, a former government minister who lost his seat in the election.

And in a phone call with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the PM attempted to show it’s business as usual by confirming she’ll start Brexit talks as planned in the “next couple of weeks”.

But, unlike during the election campaign, when she repeatedly referred to the talks starting on 19 June, she wasn’t specific about the date, suggesting it might slip.

:: Who could replace Theresa May? The PM’s likely successors

Amid a febrile atmosphere among Tory MPs, the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, is reported to be preparing a new bid to become Prime Minister as Mrs May’s grip on No. 10 becomes increasingly fragile.

But he has responded in typically colourful fashion, tweeting: “Mail on Sunday tripe – I am backing Theresa may. Let’s get on with the job.”

And his spokesman added: “The Foreign Secretary is 100% supporting the Prime Minister and working with her to get the best deal for Britain.”

But the leadership speculation confirms just how politically wounded the Prime Minister has suddenly become.

A buoyant Jeremy Corbyn, however, says in an interview with the Sunday Mirror: “I can still be Prime Minister. This is still on. Absolutely.

Jeremy Corbyn's performance at the polls was impressive but not a win
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Jeremy Corbyn insists he can still be prime minister

“Theresa May has been to the palace. She’s now attempting to form a government. She’s then got to present a programme to Parliament.

“There’s a possibility of voting the Queen’s Speech down and we’re going to push that all the way.

“We have got a mandate to deal with issues of poverty, justice and inequality in Britain. We want to end austerity and invest in this country and that’s what we’re going to do.

“Nearly 13 million people voted for us to do it. That’s why I’m here.”

:: Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, Conservative MP Anna Soubry, Labour’s Yvette Cooper, Tory peer Lord Heseltine and Culture Secretary Karen Bradley will appear on Sophy Ridge on Sunday from 10am on Sky News.

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