UK leader holds alliance talks with NIreland party chief


Talks have been under way between DUP leader Arlene Foster and the Prime Minister over a possible alliance, as the Northern Ireland party's 10 MPs could help to prop up a Tory Government.

After losing her parliamentary majority in a botched gamble on a snap election, Ms May is so weakened that her Brexit strategy has become the subject of public debate inside her own party with calls for her to take a more business-friendly approach.

Theresa May desperately needs the Democratic Unionist Party's 10 seats to pass legislation. The DUP is a traditionally Protestant party that backs keeping Northern Ireland part of the U.K. Its main rival, the pro-republican Sinn Fein, has been pushing for a referendum on Irish unity for years. "We are united in our total condemnation of terrorism and our commitment to stamp out this evil", May said ahead of her visit.

Foster tweeted afterward that "discussions are going well with the government and we hope soon to be able to bring this work to a successful conclusion".

After House Speaker John Bercow was re-elected without challenge, a chastened May quipped: "At least someone got a landslide".

The Labour leader received a standing ovation from his MPs before telling Mrs May: "Democracy is a wondrous thing, and can throw up some very unexpected results".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn countered with a bit of previously unforeseen swagger, wearing a huge red rose - his party's symbol - in his lapel as he sparred with May.

Despite writing a column for the same edition of the paper, the former journalist said it was "news to me", adding that the story may have involved a "slight amount of top spin".

May hopes with their backing her Conservative party will again command the majority it lost in last Thursday's election.

"I got us into this mess, and I'm going to get us out", she said.

His remarks came as the faltering talks process took another effective pause, only 24 hours after it resumed. The Evening Standard, edited by ex-Treasury chief George Osborne, is reporting that Cabinet ministers have initiated talks with Labour lawmakers.

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Environment Secretary Michael Gove declined to deny the reports when pressed, but told Sky News that the reality of the election result meant that May and her government would need to reach beyond party lines.

The DUP leader is nearly certain to ask for greater investment in Northern Ireland as the price of a deal.

Even the idea of an alliance is complicated, however.

Sir John said he was "concerned" about the DUP deal, and said he is "wary" and "dubious" about the deal "both for peace process reasons but also for others reasons as well".

The stakes for May are high.

May is expected to have to agreed concessions in exchange for the DUP's support in no-confidence and government-financing votes, which are essential to keeping a minority government in power. If that happens, Corbyn will demand a chance to try to form a government by uniting progressive factors in the House of Commons.

"Going overseas and being seen to be the prime minister and talking to the president of France, being seen to be wheeler-dealing on the worldwide stage, is a classic move to shore up authority at home", he told AFP.

Meanwhile, the chief European Union negotiator has told the Financial Times that the clock is ticking on Brexit talks, and that Britain should be wary of further delays.

Next week, it will be three months after the sending of the Article 50 letter, Mr Barnier said, referencing the UK's formal withdrawal notification letter.

In a TV interview, Mr Halfon added: "I genuinely believe we face potential calamity as a party because people do not understand our values, they see us just in terms of austerity".