Theresa May to meet Sinn Féin in Downing Street over DUP deal

For Labour, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said the prospect of a Conservative-DUP deal was "worrying", telling BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It would create a lot of instability in terms of the peace process in Northern Ireland".

She has already held talks with the DUP this week about a deal to support her minority Conservative government.

"That's certainly something I will emphasise in any contacts I have with Prime Minister May", he said.

There's less than two weeks left for parties to form a power sharing executive in Northern Ireland.

"And you never know in what unpredictable way events will turn out and we can not know if that impartiality is going to be crucial at some stage in the future".

Major warned that although Northern Ireland was a long way from returning to the violence that killed 3,600 people, he believed the peace process remained fragile almost two decades after a US -brokered 1998 peace agreement. People shouldn't regard it as a given. It isn't certain, it is under stress.

During his time as PM, Major's government laid the foundations for the peace process in the 1990s, and he also warned that peace in Northern Ireland should not be taken for granted.

Ceasefire negotiations began in the 1980s, eventually culminating in the Good Friday Agreement, which was negotiated by the governments of the UK, US and Ireland, as well as representatives of Northern Ireland groups.

Major warned striking the deal with the right-wing party could make the United Kingdom come across as "impartial" rather than an "honest broker", potentially affecting the peace process and galvanizing "hard men still there, lurking in the corners of communities" to return to some form of violence.

Tories have made clear since last week's election that their discussions with the DUP revolve around assurances of support in key Commons votes, rather than a full coalition.

"What we are doing in relation to the productive talks that we are holding with the Democratic Unionist Party is ensuring that it is possible to, with their support, give the stability to the UK Government that I think is necessary at this time".

International Human Rights committees have repeatedly found Northern Ireland's abortion laws to be in breach of human rights standards and have called upon the UK Government to remedy this.

May's authority has been severely diminished after a disastrous general election which saw her lose her Commons majority.

Any hard border, he said, would be catastrophic.

The proposed deal would see the DUP back the Conservatives in votes on the Budget and confidence motions.

  • Leroy Wright