DUP meet May in London as concern grows about implications for Stormont

Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster

Former Tory Prime Minister John Major has spoken out against Theresa May's intent to prop up a government with the support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Conservative MPs "will not rock the boat" once an agreement is reached with the Democratic Unionists to form a new government, the former Northern Ireland first minister David Trimble has predicted.

"We will oppose any deal which undermines the Good Friday agreement", Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams, told reporters outside May's Downing Street residence, in reference to the 1998 peace deal that ended three decades of sectarian violence.

Sinn Fein, the SDLP and Alliance have all made clear Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire can not chair the ongoing process to restore powersharing at Stormont due to their perception he has a conflict of interest.

They resumed as Sinn Fein's seven abstentionist MPs - who could bring Labour's Jeremy Corbyn closer to a Commons majority if they wished - arrived in London while other MPs, including those of the DUP, were sworn in.

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The Prime Minister's comments came after predecessor Sir John Major warned that an alliance with the DUP at Westminster risked undermining the impartiality of the UK Government as attempts were made to restore the powersharing administration in Stormont.

Sources in the Northern Ireland party indicated today that discussions with the Conservatives are on the verge of being completed - although they have been slowed by the tragic tower block blaze in West London.

But there are mounting concerns about the significant concessions that could be extracted from Mrs May over funding for Northern Ireland - potentially a billion pounds in tax breaks and infrastructure spending.

He said the current process - which involves the United Kingdom and Irish governments chairing elements of the negotiations and the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service moderating other discussions - is the "right approach".

The "supply and confidence" deal would see the DUP back the Conservatives in votes on the Budget and confidence motions. "We need to hope for the best but prepare for the worst".

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Downing Street said Cabinet ministers had discussed the Government's legislative programme when they met earlier but refused to be drawn on discussions about plans to deal with the DUP.

Following the result of last week's General Election, DUP leader Arlene Foster is holding talks with Theresa May over supporting a minority Tory government.

A senior Tory source said talks with the DUP would continue on Wednesday.

Sinn Fein has said that if May makes concessions to the DUP that would disadvantage Irish nationalists, then a deal would be more hard to secure.

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