London fire could delay deal between UK PM May's Conservatives and DUP

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.

The chaos has also weighed on the pound, which has plunged nearly two percent since Thursday, and the government may have to delay the announcement of its policy plans to parliament.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May insists the Conservatives are "steadfastly" committed to the hard-won Northern Irish peace process, despite holding controversial talks with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to prop up her minority government.

British Prime Minister Theresa May neared a deal with a Northern Irish Protestant party to save her premiership on Tuesday and confirmed Brexit talks would begin next week, amid growing calls for her to soften her approach to leaving the European Union.

He added: "I'm sure we all look forward to welcoming the Queen's Speech just as soon as the coalition of chaos has been negotiated".

Any hard border, he said, would be catastrophic.

He also told BBC radio that the government would "walk away" without a deal if the talks break down on ending Britain's four-decade membership of the European bloc. Sterling's effective exchange rate dropped by 1.4% the day after the 8 June elections, for a total depreciation of 12.2% since the Brexit vote of 23 June 2016.

He continued to later say: "If there are difficulties with the Northern Ireland executive or with any one of a number of things that might well arise during the Brexit negotiations, it's very important that there's an honest broker - and the only honest broker can be the United Kingdom government".

The Daily Telegraph reported cabinet ministers have opened back-channel talks to senior Labour lawmakers to secure a cross-party agreement on Brexit.

Before the election, May proposed a clean break from the European Union, involving withdrawal from the European Union single market, limits on immigration and a bespoke customs deal with the EU.

DUP leader Arlene Foster arrived for talks with May.

"Going overseas and being seen to be the prime minister and talking to the president of France, being seen to be wheeler-dealing on the worldwide stage, is a classic move to shore up authority at home", he said.

Ahead of the start of talks Michael Gove, agriculture and environment minster, said aligning with Arlene Foster's DUP was aimed at "strengthening" the UK.

However, Labour won 40% of the national vote, and made enough gains to rob May of a parliamentary majority. Her gamble failed spectacularly. He went on to make a series of jibes at the expense of Theresa May and said Labour was ready to provide "strong and stable" government.

"We have worked as a party with the DUP before and those are productive talks. I think it's unlikely there will be any announcement today", a DUP spokesman said.

Clarke told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "You can not carry out this negotiation on the basis that every aspect of it is going to be negotiated with the DUP to get their vote in support of it and then you are going to try to get the entire Conservative Party to agree with each other on whatever you have tried to negotiate".

But the prospect of a deal has caused consternation in Dublin, with Ireland's outgoing premier Enda Kenny warning that such an alliance could upset Northern Ireland's fragile peace.

  • Leroy Wright


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