May in talks with Northern Irish parties over DUP deal

Theresa May

Under this agreement the UK Government is meant to be a neutral arbiter of disputes between political parties in Northern Ireland, and this would be hard to do if the Tory government forms any sort of pact with the DUP.

"It is not a game, and it is certainly not a dance", he said, referencing comments DUP leader Arlene Foster made in Dublin on Friday.

Mr Paisley said yesterday his party wants out of the EU customs union as part of "hard" Brexit.

May is believed to have reached a "broad agreement" with the DUP although a deal has yet to be announced.

Amnesty International has welcomed the results of the Northern Ireland Life and Times survey which has revealed that an overwhelming majority of people in Northern Ireland favour reform of Northern Ireland's abortion laws.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar held separate talks on Friday with delegations from the two major parties in Northern Ireland over the restoration of a power-sharing executive there.

Earlier, Andrea Leadsom, leader of the lower house of parliament, said the government had agreed with Queen Elizabeth, who reads out the new government programme, that the "state opening of parliament will take place on 21 June 2017".

Government sources suggested that the Conservatives do not necessarily need an agreement with the DUP before Wednesday, because the DUP would be unlikely to support the opposition Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn.

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The meeting between Foster and Varadkar highlighted issues that have made some British politicians wary of a deal with the DUP.

However, the survey was conducted at the end of past year, just prior to the collapse of devolution and two polarising elections which have seem tribal politics come to the fore and seen both the DUP and Sinn Fein consolidate their positions as the lead parties of unionism and nationalism respectively.

Tory backbencher Heidi Allen told The Sunday Times the country wanted a "leader and a party that will carry us through this most turbulent of periods but care about the little man".

"The UK Government is offering whatever support we can, working alongside the Irish government, as appropriate, honouring our respective commitments in the Belfast Agreement to serve the interests of the whole community in Northern Ireland", he said.

Brexit is another complicating factor in the mix.

As for the United Kingdom, if it can not rapidly create a viable economic construct based on a new national consensus on Brexit, the likelihood is that it will be economically diminished for a decade or more; becoming an estranged relative of the European Union, increasingly at odds with the USA president over all but security co-operation, and in endless trade negotiations with others, including the Commonwealth, that expect such relationships to be reciprocal and mutually beneficial.

"And the danger is that however much any government tries, they will not be seen to be impartial if they are locked into a parliamentary deal at Westminster with one of the Northern Ireland parties".

"This will continue as long as no one is able to find a workable solution for the border issue".

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