EU's Brexit negotiator puts pressure on UK

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May will meet with a Northern Ireland-based party to see if they can together push through the Conservative Party's agenda after a disastrous snap election left her short of a majority in Parliament.

Sources also told the BBC that both parties were close to reaching an agreement so that May could form the government but the fire at Grenfell Towers in London made an announcement on the deal on Wednesday "inappropriate".

Meanwhile, the DUP said diary commitments meant the conclusion of a "confidence and supply" agreement at Westminster for could be delayed until next week.

Even with a deal nearing to secure her government's survival, May is so weakened that her Brexit strategy has become the subject of public debate inside her own party, with two former prime ministers urging her to soften her approach.

May said on Tuesday that talks with the DUP had been productive - a view shared by DUP leader Arlene Foster - and that Brexit negotiations would begin as planned next week.

Later, May will hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, including looking at ways to tackle online radicalisation and terrorism.

But since coming to power three weeks after the shock vote to leave the European Union, the prime minister has advocated a hard Brexit, which would entail Britain leaving the single market and cutting immigration from the bloc.

But pressure was mounting for May to change course on the type of Brexit Britain should pursue.

"The union, as I've said before, is our guiding star", she said.

She said: "There's been a lot of hyperbole talked about our position to the gay community".

Meanwhile, the chief European Union negotiator has told the Financial Times that the clock is ticking on Brexit talks, and that Britain should be wary of further delays.

The proposed deal would see the DUP back the Conservatives in votes on the Budget and on any confidence motion while other matters would be negotiated on an issue-by-issue basis.

Owen Smith, who challenged Mr Corbyn for the leadership previous year, is predicted to become Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary.

Former British prime minister John Major said he was concerned May's plan to govern with the support of the DUP could pitch the province back into turmoil by persuading "hard men" on both sides of the divide to return to violence.

Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein said the prospect of a British agreement with the DUP was causing anxiety and fear.

While the DUP are deeply Eurosceptic, they have balked at some of the practical implications of a so-called hard Brexit - including a potential loss of a "frictionless border" with the Republic of Ireland - and talks will touch on efforts to minimise the potential damage to Northern Ireland.

The head of the Democratic Unionist Party has arrived for crucial talks on whether to support Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservatives in an alliance.

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

His comments echo those of EU President Donald Tusk who said on Friday that there was "no time to lose" to avoid Britain crashing out without a deal on future relations. "She agreed on the need to listen to all the wings of the party on Brexit".

The performance of the British economy could also influence perceptions of Brexit.

  • Leroy Wright