‘Slower progress’ in May’s talks with DUP

14 Jun

Sky sources say a deal was unlikely to be unveiled today, given the fatal fire at Grenfell Tower in west London.

There have been reports the deal could even be delayed until the start of next week because of existing diary commitments for Theresa May and Arlene Foster.

The Prime Minister needs the votes of the DUP’s 10 MPs to support her minority government as she hopes to steer government business, like the Queen’s Speech and Budget, through the Commons.

A Conservative source said there was so far no deal to announce and that a decision on the timing of any announcement would only be made once an agreement is finalised.

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

Who are the DUP?

Ministers have already said that the Queen’s Speech, scheduled for 19 June, may have to be delayed because of the ongoing talks.

Negotiations broke up on Tuesday night without an agreement, but Mrs May said the discussions had been “productive”.

A senior Conservative source said: “We are making a lot of progress. It’s all being done in the spirit of cooperation, with a real focus on strengthening the union and providing stability at this time.”

Ms Foster, who travelled to Westminster for talks with the Tories on Tuesday, said she hoped a deal could be reached “sooner rather than later”.

Labour’s shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said the prospect of a deal between the Conservatives and the DUP was “worrying”, telling the BBC: “It would create a lot of instability in terms of the peace process in Northern Ireland.”

DUP leader Arlene Foster says in principle the aprty will support the Tories

DUP leader: We’ll support the national interest

This has been echoed by Sinn Fein, with the republican party saying the proposed agreement is causing anxiety and fear and could have implications for power-sharing talks.

The PM has rejected claims the deal would undermine its duty to be impartial in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Fein’s Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill has said she will raise the issue with Mrs May in face-to-face talks in London on Thursday.

Mrs O’Neill said she would discuss her concerns with new Irish PM Leo Varadkar the following day.

“I will be making it very clear that any deal between the Tories and the DUP cannot be allowed to undermine the Good Friday and subsequent agreements,” she said.

“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.”

She added: “Progress will not come from a deal between the DUP and Tories to prop up a Government in Westminster with an austerity and Brexit agenda but through the full implementation of the agreements and an Executive that respects the rights and delivers for all in society.”

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