DUP talks to continue next week to finalise 'confidence and supply' deal with Theresa May government
Theresa May's grip on power appears far from secure amid confusion around a potential deal with the Democratic Unionist Party to support her in Parliament.
Downing Street initially said an outline agreement on a "confidence and supply" arrangement had been reached with the DUP which will be put to the Cabinet for discussion on Monday.
But it later emerged no deal has yet been finalised and talks on the arrangement will continue during the week as Mrs May desperately tries to shore up her position after losing her Commons majority in the election.
The 10 DUP MPs could prove crucial in supporting the Conservatives on key votes after Mrs May was left eight seats short of an overall majority in the general election.
A confidence and supply deal would mean them backing the Government on its Budget and confidence motions, but could potentially lead to other issues being decided on a vote-by-vote basis.
The talks were in line with DUP leader Arlene Foster's "commitment to explore how we might bring stability to the nation at this time of great challenge", her party said in a statement.
The talks so far have been positive. Discussions will continue next week to work on the details and to reach agreement on arrangements for the new Parliament. DUP
Number 10 had earlier said: "We can confirm that the Democratic Unionist Party have agreed to the principles of an outline agreement to support the Conservative Government on a confidence and supply basis when Parliament returns next week."
Following talks between Mrs May and the DUP on Saturday night, a second statement confirmed that no final deal had been reached.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said: "The Prime Minister has tonight spoken with the DUP to discuss finalising a confidence and supply deal when Parliament returns next week.
"We will welcome any such deal being agreed, as it will provide the stability and certainty the whole country requires as we embark on Brexit and beyond."
As and when details are finalised both parties will put them forward. Downing Street
Mrs May needs support in Parliament because the Queen's Speech setting out the Government's programme is due on June 19, with a crucial vote on it expected after a few days' debate.
Sinn Féin leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill has said the proposed deal between the Conservatives and the DUP “will end in tears”.
She said: “Experience shows us that unionists have minimal influence on any British government.
“This new arrangement between the DUP and the Tories will be transitory and will end in tears.
“But it will be the people of the north who will have to pay the price for the DUP’s support for Brexit and for cuts.”
“Sinn Féin’s focus remains on entering talks to re-establish an Executive which delivers for all on the basis of equality, respect and integrity and this requires the full implementation of agreements on rights and legacy.”
They have achieved little propping up Tory governments in the past and put their own interests before those of the people. Michelle O'Neill
The potential deal with the DUP came after Mrs May sent her Chief Whip Gavin Williamson to Belfast for talks.
In other developments:
- Mrs May's two closest aides Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill quit after coming under intense pressure from Tories following the election result.
- Ex-minister Gavin Barwell, who lost his seat in Thursday's election, was named as the new chief of staff, replacing Mr Timothy and Ms Hill.
- Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson indicated she wanted to see a fresh approach to Brexit by seeking a consensus across parties.
- Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told the Sunday Mirror he would oppose the Queen's Speech all the way. "I can still be prime minister. This is still on. Absolutely," Mr Corbyn said.
- Sunday papers reported that Boris Johnson was either being encouraged to make a leadership bid in an effort to oust Theresa May, or actually preparing one - a claim dismissed as "tripe" by the Foreign Secretary.
Belfast Telegraph Digital