11 Jun 2017

Talks on UK minority govt 'positive'

6:57 pm on 11 June 2017

Britain's minority Conservative government says it has struck a provisional deal with a minor party, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), to help get its programme through parliament.

Britain's Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on June 9, 2017, en route to Buckingham Palace to meet Queen Elizabeth II,

Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street. Photo: AFP

Prime Minister Theresa May is to stay in office with the support of her "friends" in the DUP after the Conservatives failed to win a majority in the snap election she called.

The DUP are pro-union in UK terms, pro-Brexit and socially conservative.

Under the deal, the DUP will vote with the government on confidence and supply but not enter a formal coalition.

Downing Street and the DUP issued separate statements overnight, emphasising that the deal between them had not yet been finalised.

The tone of both was in contrast to Saturday evening's message from No 10, which said a deal had been agreed in principle.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) deputy leader Nigel Dodds, at right,  and leader Arlene Foster. celebrate Dodds winning his Belfast North seat.

Democratic Unionist Party deputy leader Nigel Dodds, at right, and leader Arlene Foster, celebrate Dodds winning his Belfast North seat. Photo: AFP

In a DUP statement released at midnight, the party said: "The DUP held discussions with representatives of the Conservative Party in line with Arlene Foster's commitment to explore how we might bring stability to the nation at this time of great challenge.

"The talks so far have been positive."

The agreement will be discussed by the cabinet on Tuesday.

In response to the earlier Downing Street statement, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron called on Mrs May to make public immediately the details of the deal "stitched up behind closed doors".

Sinn Féin's leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill said the DUP had "betrayed the interests of the people" there and the new arrangement would "end in tears".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the government did not have any credibility to go forward and the Labour Party would do what it could to stop it, including by voting down the Queen's Speech.

'Deep friendship' between NZ and UK

Meanwhile, New Zealand's Prime Minister, Bill English, has rung May to congratulate her on her re-appointment as British Prime Minister.

Mr English said he spoke to Mrs May last night.

He said New Zealand and the UK had a deep friendship and shared interests, including defence and security co-operation and the promotion of open economies.

Mr English said he looked forward to working closely with Mrs May.

- BBC/RNZ

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