DUP leader says talks with Conservatives 'positive'

Jane Richards
June 14, 2017

It doesn't really matter to European Union negotiators whom they face across the table - May or her suddenly strengthened rival, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn or someone else. French President Emmanuel Macron, whose brand-new party has nearly secured a historic victory in the French parliamentary election, and Merkel, who is riding high in the polls and is likely to be re-elected in September, have the strong mandates necessary for a pitched battle.

What about Conservative Party members? While the DUP has been supporting the Conservatives in the House of Commons for many years, the party's new-found position as kingmaker has put its views under the microscope.

In negotiations with Mrs May and her team, the DUP delegation will also be acutely aware of the impact that any agreement may have on trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic, which is now thriving.

"It is clear the nasty party is back with a vengeance".

Scottish Conservatives' leader Ruth Davidson, whose influence has grown dramatically with the election of 13 Tories north of the border, has already broken cover to say "this isn't just going to be a Tory Brexit".

Tom Tugendhat, a Tory MP, said: "Three questions on DUP deal". A similarly hard-line position on the rights of women to seek an abortion has also unsettled moderates on the centre-right of the Conservative scene, some of whom have also urged their party to adopt a more liberal position in the wake of disastrous losses to Labour in London.

Northern Ireland's fragile peace process is at risk of collapsing due to British Prime Minister Theresa May's proposed pact to cling to power and push ahead with Brexit, Ireland's leader has warned.

One DUP demand would see any political donations to Sinn Fein from outside the United Kingdom banned, a move which would strip the party of access to cash from the USA where a large ethnic Irish population offers financial support.

Second, the deal also changes the dynamics of the Brexit negotiations in Westminster.

A spokesman for May would not confirm or deny whether the Prime Minister would push the DUP on LGBT rights. "The door will be a lot more open now than it used to be, and that can only be a good thing". The result of the election, however, has overturned this plan.

Without a majority, May's government will be vulnerable if a significant number of MPs in her party who want a soft Brexit find common cause with Labour and other parties. None of this is possible with a hard Brexit.

As well as her Brexit demands, Foster is likely to demand a substantial increase in government funding for Northern Ireland.

May wants to negotiate the divorce and the future trading relationship with the European Union before Britain leaves in March 2019, followed by what she calls a phased implementation process to give business time to prepare for the impact of the divorce.

"There is definitely more support for equal marriage than there is opposition and it's growing all the time, so we want the politicians to recognise it. Society is moving faster than they are - they need to get with the programme".

The Orange Order is a masonic-style, hyper-conservative religious and political organization which grew out of Northern Ireland's centuries-long sectarian conflict.

Devolution in Northern Ireland is based on the template laid out in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Outgoing Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny voiced concern in a phone call with May that the proposed deal between her Conservatives and the DUP could undermine the Northern Ireland peace process. This is because Sinn Fein and other Irish nationalists are very unlikely to look favourably on a Conservative-DUP alliance, arguing that this would threaten the impartiality that the government must demonstrate when dealing with the different political traditions in Northern Ireland.

The DUP has come under renewed pressure to explain a £435,000 donation they received during the Brexit campaign from a group whose funders are secret.

Other reports by VgToday

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