UK, EU in suspense as May tries to strike power deal

UK, EU in suspense as May tries to strike power deal

May’s Conservative Party, which failed to win a majority in last week’s British general election, has been talking to Northern Ireland’s largest party, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to secure the support of their 10 members of parliament in Westminster. “We are continuing to have talks but today, as you will imagine, there has been a real focus on this bad tragedy in London“, May said.

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May speaks outside 10 Downing Street after an attack on London Bridge and Borough Market left 7 people dead and dozens injured in London, Britain, June 4, 2017.

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If the Government cannot even secure a deal with the DUP, how on Earth can they get a deal with the EU?

“The first phase of the negotiations will tackle three main areas: safeguarding the rights of citizens, financial settlement of the UK’s obligations and the new external borders of the European Union“, the Commission said.

Barnier this week acknowledged “sensitivity” in London at European Union suggestions that Britain might owe it some 60 billion euros in 2019 and said sorting out the issue soon would help a trade deal: “I would like to very quickly play down this question, and find concrete, pragmatic and just solutions”, he said on Monday.

The former prime minister Sir John Major has suggested it will be hard for the government to act as an honest broker in talks to restore the power-sharing agreement in Belfast if it enters into a deal with the DUP to prop up a Conservative minority government in Westminster. May has said the divorce talks, likely to be the most complex in Europe since World War Two, will begin as planned next week and her Brexit minister, David Davis, said Britain’s negotiating position was unchanged. The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, struck a harsher tone: Britain, he said, could change its mind, but it would be poorer. But like Alice In Wonderland, not all doors are the same.

The deal May has brokered with the DUP leader Arlene Foster involves giving an economic boost to Northern Ireland, but agreeing to disagree on some social policy issues, including LGBT rights and same sex marriage.

For Labour, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said the prospect of a Conservative-DUP deal was “worrying”, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It would create a lot of instability in terms of the peace process in Northern Ireland”.

The negotiations with the DUP revolve around support from the party on a vote-by-vote basis in parliament, rather than a formal coalition government.

The proposed “supply and confidence” deal would see the DUP back the Conservatives in votes on the Budget and confidence motions.

Though on the surface, Thursday’s meeting with Northern Irish parties is aimed at breaking the logjam in forming a new cross-party regional government in the province, May needs broader acceptance of a Conservative-DUP deal.