Don't waste time, EU Brexit chief tells Britain

The European Parliament, which named former Belgian prime minister Verhofstadt as its Brexit pointman a year ago, will have the final say on any deal on Britain's exit from the EU.

The result - in which the ruling Conservative Party is trying to do a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to stay in power - will have an enormous impact on Northern Ireland.

There would be very serious consequences if there was any suggestion of a back-room deal with the DUP, said SDLP leader Colum Eastwood.

At least six people died and dozens were injured when a massive fire tore through a 24-storey London apartment block overnight, a fresh blow to the capital less than two weeks after the London Bridge terror attack.

Speaking alongside Mr Macron, the PM said: "We have been very clear we want to maintain a close relationship and a close partnership with the European Union and individual member states into the future, including in the areas we've discussed this evening".

The Northern Ireland-based party is being courted by May to create an alliance to push through the Conservative Party's agenda after a disastrous snap election left May short of a majority in Parliament.

A lackluster campaign saw her high approval rating slip away, and support for her "hard Brexit" strategy-pulling out of the European single market and customs union-now hangs in the balance.

But speaking during a visit to Paris to meet French president Emmanuel Macron, Mrs May told reporters: "We as Government remain absolutely steadfast in our commitment to the Belfast Agreement and the subsequent agreements and we continue to work with all the parties in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in ensuring that we can continue to put in place those measures necessary to fulfil those agreements".

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has demanded details of any Conservative-DUP deal, calling it a "nonsense situation".

As May attempts to cobble together a majority, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier warned that time was passing in an interview on Tuesday. "I can't negotiate with myself", he told The Financial Times.

The Tories and the DUP are considering a "confidence and supply" arrangement which would see the party back the Government to get its Budget through and on confidence motions.

France's President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that "the door remains open" for the United Kingdom to ditch plans for Brexit and stay in the EU.

They would not form a coalition.

The partnership between the DUP and the Conservative (and Unionist) Party in the British government might in theory make Irish nationalists and republicans more willing to concede (Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, has hinted that he might be prepared to make concessions on Foster's return).

London's neutrality is key to the delicate balance of power in Northern Ireland, which was once plagued by violence over Britain's control of the province.

The liberal former prime minister of Belgium is a supporter of much closer integration in the European Union, with national governments handing over more powers to Brussels.

Sinn Fein believes that it could win that referendum because of concerns in Northern Ireland about Brexit.

  • Leroy Wright