London fire could delay deal between UK PM May's Conservatives and DUP

Arlene Foster to finalise deal in London after weekend talks with Tories make'good progress

British Prime Minister Theresa May began talks on Tuesday to form an alliance with Northern Ireland's ultra-conservative DUP party in order to cling to power after her election fiasco, leaving the EU's Brexit negotiator wondering when divorce talks will begin.

British Prime Minister Theresa May took the blame for the Conservatives' disastrous performance in last week's election when she faced her party's angry MPs on Monday, seeking to ward off any challenge to her leadership.

Ms Foster, who travelled to Westminster for talks with the Tories on Tuesday, said she hoped a deal could be reached "sooner rather than later".

May's office issued a statement saying she was "deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life" but made no mention of the talks with the DUP.

"I can't confirm anything yet until we know the final details of the agreement", he said.

The Labour leader urged his 262 MPs to think of themselves as a "government in waiting" at their first meeting since the party exceeded expectations on 8 June. When she did talk, she focused more on domestic policies, some of which were pretty controversial.

Mrs May addressed a packed meeting of the 1922 Committee for 90 minutes after her failure to win the election outright prompted days of speculation about her future.

May has said that the party, with its 10 crucial MPs to make up a majority in the House of Commons for the Conservatives, will have no veto on key policies. While the Conservative Party did receive the most votes, it was only about 2 percent more than the Labour Party, which was expected to lose by about 20 percent when the election was called for, just two months ago.

She added she hoped people on mainland Britain would "find out a bit more about Northern Ireland and understand it a little better" once a deal with the DUP is struck. "This new arrangement is very unsettling and people are concerned and anxious about what it may mean", Sinn Fein MP Michelle Glidernew told AFP.

In a sign of the parliamentary guerilla warfare that will face Mrs May as she attempts to run a minority government, a Labour source said: "In Parliament we will be using every opportunity to halt the Tory programme which doesn't have a mandate and use every mechanism to advance our own manifesto and agenda".

The cabinet also discussed the ongoing talks with the DUP to secure a confidence and supply arrangement, added May's official spokesperson.

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She told a meeting of backbenchers that she had got the party into "this mess" by calling the snap election and now "I'll get us out of it".

A lack lustre campaign saw her high approval rating slip away, and support for her "hard Brexit" strategy pulling out of the European single market and customs union now hangs in the balance.

Addressing a meeting of backbenchers, Mrs May reportedly said she would serve as "long as you want me to do".

It is passing quicker than anyone believes because the subjects we have to deal with are extraordinarily complex.

"We stand at a critical time with those Brexit negotiations starting only next week - I think that stability is important".

Meanwhile, the chief European Union negotiator has told the Financial Times that the clock is ticking on Brexit talks, and that Britain should be wary of further delays.

Thus we must begin this negotiation.

"We are impatiently waiting for the negotiating position of the United Kingdom gov (ernment)".

As discussion continued, a leading business organization said the political uncertainty is leading to a "dramatic drop" in confidence.

The EU meanwhile was preparing to unveil plans to give itself new powers over London's banking business after Brexit in a blow to the city's supremacy as a global financial hub.

With formal European Union divorce talks due next week, May heads to France on Tuesday to meet Emmanuel Macron, who last month swept to victory in the presidential election.

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