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Fresh blow for Theresa May as Tories fail to strike deal with DUP before Queen's Speech

Fresh blow for Theresa May as Tories fail to strike deal with DUP before Queen's Speech

Emilio Casalicchio

3 min read

The Conservatives have failed to strike a deal with the DUP ahead of the Queen’s Speech in a major blow for Theresa May.


The Northern Irish unionists said the party would not be “taken for granted” and dismissed reports a deal could be announced by Thursday.

The Prime Minister has been in talks to strike a so-called ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement with the DUP after she lost her majority at the general election last week.

Such an arrangement would see the 10 DUP MPs vote with the Tories on key legislative items in exchange for sweeteners such as funding boosts for Northern Ireland.

Downing Street originally suggested a deal would be imminent after Mrs May launched into negotiations on Friday - but the DUP today hinted that talks had stalled.

A source said today: "Negotiations haven't proceeded in a way that DUP would have expected."

The source added that the party “can’t be taken for granted” and they urged the Government to give the talks “greater focus”.

The development is a major embarrassment for the Prime Minister who was already forced to delay the Queen’s Speech by two days as the wrangling with the DUP stretched on.

According to the BBC Downing Street remains hopeful that a deal could be done by Thursday - yet the DUP source rejected the claim.

It means Mrs May will be unveiling the Queen’s Speech as a minority government and has until next Tuesday and Wednesday until crucial votes on the Government’s legislative programme to settle an arrangement.

If she loses any of the votes it would be an effective vote of no confidence which could throw the already deeply unstable Government into turmoil.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling this morning sounded a note of optimism on the DUP deal, arguing the Queen’s Speech measures would pass through the Commons.

"The talks are going on but one thing I am absolutely certain of is that the DUP do not want to see another election and Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street," he told Radio 4’s Today programme.

"We are having good, constructive discussions and I am confident we will reach a sensible agreement."

'NO MANDATE' FOR DIRECTION

But Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said tonight: "Theresa May has no mandate for the direction she is taking the country.

"This is the first time in decades that a Prime Minister will propose a Queen's Speech without a Commons' majority.

"Her failure to reach a deal in time with the DUP doesn't bode well for the tough Brexit talks ahead.

"Theresa May must now abandon her plans for an extreme Brexit and agree to work with other parties to get the best possible deal for the country."

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