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British PM Now Says DUP Talks Ongoing, No Support Deal Yet

  • RFE/RL

British Prime Minister Theresa May

British Prime Minister Theresa May's office says talks are still in progress between her Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland after earlier saying an agreement had been reached to support May’s government.

"The prime minister has tonight spoken with the DUP to discuss finalizing a 'confidence-and-supply' deal when Parliament returns next week," a spokesman said early on June 11.

The little-known ultraconservative DUP party said "talks so far have been positive."

"Discussions will continue next week to work on the details and to reach agreement on arrangements for the new Parliament," said the DUP, which generally refuses on religious grounds to hold political discussions on Sundays.

On June 10, the prime minister’s office said the two parties had agreed to an "outline agreement" to support May's government on a "confidence-and-supply basis."

Sky News cited sources as saying the Downing Street press office had made the earlier announcement of a deal "in error."

A confidence-and-supply arrangement means the DUP would support May’s government in exchange for concessions on some issues rather than forming a formal governing coalition that controls a majority in Parliament.

May is trying to form a minority government after her Conservative Party lost its parliamentary majority in a June 8 snap election that she had called for back in April.

As a result of the vote, she has faced calls to step down from within her own party and from the opposition.

May has refused to step down. But two of her top aides -- joint chiefs of staff Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill -- quit their posts on June 10 after becoming a focus of blame for the Conservatives’ election disaster.

The Conservatives secured 318 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons -- short of the 326 seats needed to control a majority.

The DUP won 10 seats, which would mean the Conservatives would have support from a majority of 328 deputies if they confirm the confidence-and-supply arrangement with the DUP.

A petition against May's deal with the DUP had attracted nearly 600,000 signatures on June 10 as chances of an agreement increased.

"This is a disgusting, desperate attempt to stay in power," the petition said, citing some of the DUP's views, including opposition to gay marriage and abortion.

The AFP news agency reported a few hundred protesters stood outside Downing Street chanting, "Racist, sexist, antigay, the DUP has got to go."

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, BBC, Sky News, and The Guardian
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