British leader holds alliance talks with Northern Ireland party chief

Bruno Cirelli
Giugno 15, 2017

Theresa May desperately needs the Democratic Unionist Party's 10 seats to pass legislation.

Any extra money for Northern Ireland under a Conservative-DUP deal at Westminster should also lead to more cash for Wales, say Welsh ministers.

"But let us be clear and organised and once the negotiations have started we should be well aware that it'll be more hard to move backwards".

Days after May lost her parliamentary majority in a failed electoral gamble, the premier welcomed the leader of the DUP to Downing Street in a bid to gain the support of its 10 MPs.

Mrs May made a fatal mistake in the General Election when she adopted a persona that was aloof, cold and arrogant.

May and Foster met for more than an hour, but the PM said nothing as she left for the Commons where MPs returned and re-elected John Bercow as Speaker unopposed.

The loss of a slim majority, inherited from her predecessor, in a snap election called at a time when the opposition was at its weakest and most divided is, unequivocally, a disaster.

"I could still be prime minister", party leader Jeremy Corbyn reminded everyone on the weekend, indicating Labour would try to vote down the Queen's Speech opening of the next Parliament. "I am dubious about it", Major said.

The talks with the DUP follow her apology to Conservative rank-and-file lawmakers in a meeting for the party's poor election result.

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".

On Monday Britain's Brexit minister David Davis said formal talks on Britain's exit from the European Union may not begin on June 19 as it was the same date the government is due to set out its policy programme for a new parliament.

On Tuesday, the leading voice of the pro-Brexiteers, the Daily Telegraph, reported, "Senior Cabinet ministers are engaged in secret talks with Labour MPs to secure cross-party backing for a soft Brexit".

His bullish tone - attacking the Tory party as "anti-worker, anti-disabled people, anti-pensioner and anti-young people" - poured cold water on suggestions from another Tory grandee, former Foreign Secretary William Hague, that May should consider cross-party working, especially on Brexit, to shore-up her authority.

Clarke backed Remain in last year's European Union referendum, but said that "the parliamentary vote in the last parliament settled the doubt we are leaving. we are now destined to leave the European Union".

The DUP leader is nearly certain to ask for greater investment in Northern Ireland as the price of a deal. But Northern Ireland opposed Brexit and the price for its support may include not only a "soft" Brexit that is nearly no Brexit at all, but the abandonment of several contentious elements of the Conservative election platform that helped turn an anticipated landslide into a humiliating retreat.

However, Major said running a minority government was "an option well worth considering", arguing that even an informal alliance was "bound" to strain relations with the Irish government. Some involved in the Irish peace process are alarmed because the 1998 Good Friday peace accords call for the British government to be neutral in the politics of Northern Ireland.

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".

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