May to meet Irish party leader on government formation

May to meet Irish party leader on government formation

Cabinet ministers have discussed plans for a deal with the DUP ahead of critical talks between Theresa May and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster.

She told the influential 1922 Committee of backbench MPs that she had got the party into "this mess" by calling the snap election, but she would "get us out of it".

May's Conservatives unexpectedly lost their majority in Parliament in last Thursday's snap general election, causing political chaos ahead of the Brexit talks with the European Union which are set to start next week.

Those talks in Brussels could also be delayed, but the government insist the two-year Brexit timetable would still be adhered to.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is in for a hard Tuesday (June 13) as she is due to hold talks with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party to secure an informal alliance before meeting French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

He said there was no appetite among the public for a leadership contest which could plunge the party into a fresh general election. "Now is the time for delivery and Theresa May is the right person to continue that vital work".

The Conservative Party fell eight seats short of retaining its parliamentary majority, and is now in talks with Northern Ireland's ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) - which won 10 seats - to forge an informal alliance.

The crunch talks could also force the delay of the government's presentation of its legislative programme to parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, due on June 19.

The Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, and the SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood, said that the reappointed Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, should not chair the talks because the prospective Conservative-DUP link-up meant he could not be impartial, which would go against the terms of the Belfast Agreement.

Brexit minister David Davis insisted the government still aimed to take Britain out of the European Union single market in order "to take back control of our borders".

Sky News reported the speech would be delayed a few days - a highly unusual circumstance in a country where the monarch's schedule is determined months in advance.

And he claimed Britain would still be prepared to walk away from negotiations without a deal if necessary.

"The idea that the United Kingdom led by this prime minister and this government can just blunder into negotiations starting one week today, I just don't think it's a credible proposition", she told reporters in London.

With formal European Union divorce talks due next week, May heads to France on Tuesday, possibly to bask in the popularity of Emmanuel Macron, who last month swept to victory in a presidential contest.

If she fails at the meeting to reassure lawmakers that she can govern effectively however her critics are likely to step up calls for her to go.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said the government should put economic growth at the heart of its Brexit strategy, while some senior ministers have pushed for less focus on immigration and more on jobs.

The results quickly sparked widespread commentary about how long she can stay on as prime minister. Gove, a long-time opponent who was dismissed when May became prime minister previous year, will now serve as environment secretary.

After the opposition Labour Party made hefty election gains by focusing heavily on national issues, May listed areas such as education and housing as top policy priorities.

On Monday, she faced members of the Conservatives' 1922 Committee, which can trigger a vote of confidence in a party leader if it receives letters from 15 percent of the party's MPs.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood warned that the future of Northern Ireland must not be left "in the hands of a Tory-DUP government".

"The other side of the coin is that if you go into a negotiation without the ability to walk away, then you will have a poorer outcome from that negotiation, it doesn't matter if you're buying a house or doing an worldwide trade deal".

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