LONDON British Prime Minister Theresa May’s talks on securing the support of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to prop up her minority government are not going as expected, sources in the DUP said on Tuesday.
May is due to launch her program for government on Wednesday but does not yet have the deal she needs to pass it through parliament next week. A snap election intended to strengthen her hand instead left her short of an outright majority and needing the DUP’s support.
Talks between the two parties, who are largely aligned on domestic issues and Brexit, have dragged on for nearly two weeks, fuelling deep political uncertainty as Britain begins talks on leaving the European Union.
“(May’s government) needs to give greater focus to discussions,” a DUP source told Reuters. “DUP can’t be taken for granted. Negotiations haven’t proceeded in the way that we would have expected.”
A second DUP source confirmed the account.
If May is unable to win a vote on the Queen’s speech next Thursday it would be taken as a vote of no confidence and likely end her attempt to form a government to lead the country through two years of arduous negotiations on leaving the EU.
Asked about the DUP comments, a Conservative source said the talks were still taking place.
“Talks are ongoing with the DUP and we continue to work towards a confidence and supply arrangement,” the source said, adding that the parties had shared objectives on issues like Brexit, fighting terrorism and spreading prosperity.
“While our discussions continue, it is important the government gets on with its business.”
Earlier on Tuesday, British transport minister Chris Grayling said he was confident of reaching a ‘sensible’ agreement.
On Friday, DUP leader Arlene Foster said it was “right and proper” that her party would vote for May’s legislative agenda, known as the Queen’s Speech.
(Reporting by Amanda Ferguson, William James and Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Michael Holden and Hugh Lawson)