UK PM May said wants broader consensus on Brexit plan

15 June 2017, 01:25 | Andres Norman

The negotiation start date was due to be Monday or Tuesday this coming week but is now likely to be delayed because of the timing of the Queen's Speech, itself delayed because of the Conservative Party's quest to reach a political deal domestically with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party.

To stay in government, May must strike a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a small eurosceptic Northern Irish party with 10 parliamentary seats. The Conservatives are considering an arrangement in which the Northern Ireland party backs May on the budget and her confidence motions.

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme was set up by Northern Ireland's Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in 2012, when current DUP leader Arlene Foster was in charge.

"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".

However, not only did she fail to extend the 17-seat majority inherited from Cameron, she ruinously lost it.

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

The DUP supports a recent recommendation from Westminster's Defence Committee that a statute of limitations be introduced when it comes to prosecuting security force members who served during the Troubles.

"I congratulate her on returning and I'm sure she'll agree with me that democracy is a wondrous thing, and can throw up some very unexpected results", he said. During the election campaign, May had used the "coalition of chaos" phrase to describe what a victory for Labour would look like.

The talks with the DUP follow May's apology to Conservative rank-and-file lawmakers in a meeting Monday which signaled she would be more open to consultation, particularly with business leaders demanding answers about the details on Britain's departure from the European Union.

"I'm the person who got us into this mess and I'm the one who will get us out of it", she said.

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Yesterday the Evening Standard - whose editor George Osborne was dropped as Chancellor of the Exchequer by May a year ago - reported that a group of "sensible" Tory MPs were meeting with their Labour counterparts to ensure a soft Brexit in the upcoming negotiations with the EU.

The election, which was aimed at increasing the Conservative majority in the Commons, resulted in the party having 13 fewer MPs.

Foster said her party would go into the talks "with the national interest at heart".

Declaring Northern Ireland a "special zone" to try to solve this problem, as the European commission appears to have suggested, is not acceptable to the DUP because it would imply a distinct status within the United Kingdom in breach of their unionist imperative.

Even the idea of an alliance is complicated, however.

The British government is preparing to share power with a Northern Irish party, that is known, if at all, for its anti-gay views and for its links with sectarian killers.

The DUP and Sinn Fein have also been at loggerheads recently over the collapse of a power-sharing agreement in Northern Ireland that has meant the province has had no government since January.

That's fundamentally why Theresa May's proposed deal with the DUP is so damaging for the Good Friday agreement and the peace process.

The stakes for May are high.

Jeremy Corbyn's chief whip Nick Brown says Labour will be a "constructive and positive" opposition as Theresa May attempts to lead a minority government. Yet, with a prime minister discredited and shattered after the disastrous election, Britain does not have strong and stable leadership.

In an interview with a group of European newspapers, Mr Barnier lamented that it was already three months since Ms May had formally triggered the two-year process of Britain leaving the European Union. "I can't negotiate with myself".



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