May keeps mum after DUP talks

UK Prime Minister Theresa May in the House of Commons, London, during its first sitting since the election.

DUP leader Arlene Foster arrived for talks with May. May's Conservatives in power.

The Conservative leader is trying to seal a voting alliance with Northern Ireland's ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party, in order to gain a majority in the House of Commons.

The DUP continue to hammer out the details of the deal with the Tories.

The deal May has brokered with the DUP leader Arlene Foster involves giving an economic boost to Northern Ireland, but agreeing to disagree on some social policy issues, including LGBT rights and same sex marriage.

On Brexit, Ms Foster said her party wanted to see "a sensible Brexit and one that works for everybody".

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, which saw its number of parliamentary seats and share of the vote increase, said there could be another election this year or early in 2018 after Thursday's vote produced no clear victor.

Some observers have maintained that a deal with the DUP risks destabilising Northern Ireland by increasing the influence of pro-British unionists.

Speaking to reporters in Paris late Tuesday, May sought to dispel those fears, saying "we as Government remain absolutely steadfast" in its commitments to the Northern Irish peace process.

A majority in Northern Ireland wanted the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union, though the DUP backed a divorce from the bloc. The border was eliminated as part of the 1998 Good Friday agreement which ended the so-called troubles.

Both sides had hoped that a deal would be announced on Wednesday.

Amid calls from some MPs for the Conservatives to rethink their Brexit strategy, he said there was a "clear consensus" for leaving the single market and ending free movement while retaining the "maximum access" to European Union markets and maintaining co-operation in key areas such as science.

Sinn Fein has declined to say whether it might challenge a Tory-DUP tie-up in the courts, but Alex Maskey, a Sinn Fein member of the Belfast Assembly, said it could "prove to be reckless". But party president Gerry Adams has called the DUP-Tory alliance chaotic and he said on Monday that a referendum on Irish unity was inevitable.

A senior Conservative source said: 'We are making a lot of progress.

"I think it is very much doable to have a deal by the end of this month", she added. However, it's not just the support of another party May needs to ensure. May's "hard Brexit" approach. Thus we must begin this negotiation.

May has promised to start the formal Brexit talks next week but her authority has collapsed since the election result and opponents took her woes as a chance to push back against her Brexit strategy.

Foster's rivals in Northern Ireland, such as Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams, have objected, describing any partnership between the Conservatives and the DUP as "a coalition of chaos".

  • Zachary Reyes