Britain's Theresa May backtracks on announcement of DUP deal

The Northern Ireland Secretary appears to have ruled out an independent mediator to chair talks to restore powersharing amid criticism his impartiality has been compromised by the anticipated Democratic Unionist/Conservative parliamentary deal. By tradition, defeat on a Queen's Speech vote topples the government.

But the confusion reinforced a sense of chaos at the heart of government just days before Britain starts the complex and fraught negotiations on leaving the European Union. May should be able to use these two set-piece events to shape the country's future.

"I can still be prime minister", Corbyn tells the Sunday Mirror.

George Osborne, editor of the Evening Standard and the former British chancellor, called May a "dead woman walking".

So who is really in charge? If not, the Labour Party would expect to have an opportunity to put forward an alternative Queen's Speech and see if it could win the support of a majority.

But even in this her lack of authority prevented her from major moves or sackings.

Former party leaders have warned any immediate leadership challenge would be too disruptive, but most commentators believe May can not survive in the long-term.

Under pressure from Conservative cabinet ministers, May accepted the resignation of her two top aides, her co-chiefs of staff Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, on Saturday.

Party leaders at Stormont are expected to meet the Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, and the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs on Monday.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, a member of May's Conservative party, told the BBC: "What we do have now is an understanding of the outline proposals that would underpin that working agreement".

Political rivals of the DUP are adamant the Government can no longer cast itself as a neutral facilitator in the process, given Theresa May's intent to form a minority government with the help of a confidence-and-supply deal with the unionist party.

There are fears among more liberal Conservative MPs that the socially conservative DUP will demand a scaling back of abortion and gay rights - but No. 10 sources have insisted these issues are not on the table.

The Conservatives won 318 House of Commons seats in Thursday's election, eight short of an outright majority. That power is now lost. "The result of this election shows that people don't trust her".

If neither party can command a majority in parliament for their Queen's Speech, it is likely a fresh election would be called.

The Islington North MP could have been facing a third leadership election in as many years had Labour been condemned to a resounding defeat. With talks in Brussels just seven days away, it is clear that the plan for a hard Brexit, in which the United Kingdom severs all ties with the European Union, including free market membership, is now in doubt. This certainly means a softer Brexit is now on the cards.

"I don't detect any great appetite amongst my colleagues for presenting the public with a massive additional dose of uncertainty by getting involved in a self-indulgent Conservative Party internal election campaign.", Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative lawmakers, told BBC TV.

  • Leroy Wright