Tuesday, 22 August, 2017

DUP head arrives for talks with UK leader May

Conservative-DUP agreement due 'next week' UK's May holds alliance talks with NIreland party chief
Christy Curtis | 17 June, 2017, 06:02

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday failed to strike a government deal in an initial round of talks with Northern Ireland's ultra-conservative DUP party, leaving the EU's Brexit negotiator wondering when divorce talks would begin.

In this grab taken from video, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May.

The UK's Brexit Secretary Mr Davis and the lead negotiator for the remaining 27 countries released a joint statement this afternoon revealing the opening session of negotiations on June 19.

Colum Eastwood, leader of the SDLP, Northern Ireland's second-largest Irish nationalist party, said his party had a "positive" meeting with the prime minister over her efforts to come up with a deal with the DUP.

The Conservative source said this meant the party was "confident" it had enough votes for the programme to be approved, after May suffered a disastrous setback in snap elections a week ago that saw her lose her majority in the 650-seat House of Commons, just ahead of crucial Brexit negotiations with Brussels.

The move comes amid concerns the Government will compromise its stated impartiality in the region if it enters a confidence and supply deal with the DUP at Westminster.

Following more than an hour of talks between May and DUP leader Arlene Foster on Tuesday, May said the discussion had been productive and Foster said she hoped a deal could be done "sooner rather than later".

Downing Street has warned that direct rule from London could be imposed if no solution is found before the June 29 deadline.

The unprecedented negotiations at the Commission's offices come nearly exactly a year after Britons voted last June 23 to leave the EU.

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.

But Mr Davis insisted the United Kingdom still wants to negotiate its future trade relationship with the European Union "alongside" talks on the terms for Brexit, which he said was the process set out in Article 50 of the European Union treaties.

The former Northern Ireland First Minister said her meeting with Mr Varadkar was very good and that she was looking forward to a very positive relationship with the Irish premier.

Conservative Party sources say May wants to show her government is up and running but her loss of authority in last week's election will make it harder to handle a hectic agenda - Brexit talks with the European Union, tackling a slowing economy, a political crisis in Ireland, and a devastating fire in London.

He also said the government would "walk away" with no deal if talks broke down on ending Britain's four-decade membership of the European bloc.

Before joining French President Emmanuel Macron to watch England get beaten 3-2 by France in Paris, she insisted she will not need extra time to negotiate Brexit.

Mr Bruton said there was a danger that Brexit negotiations - which he likened to a bitter divorce - would take precendence over power-sharing negotiations in Northern Ireland.

Divisions over Europe helped sink the premierships of May's predecessors Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Cameron, and many of her lawmakers and party members favour a sharp break with the EU.

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