May keeps mum after DUP talks

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

European Union leaders fear Prime Minister Theresa May's shock loss of her majority in the snap British election will delay Brexit talks due to start this month and raise the risk of negotiations failing.

Theresa May has told Conservative lawmakers she would serve as prime minister as long as they wanted her after a botched election gamble cost the party its majority in parliament and weakened Britain's hand days before formal Brexit negotiations.

Leader of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Arlene Foster and Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds arrive at 10 Downing Street in London, for a meeting with Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, Tuesday June 13, 2017.

May, who failed to secure an outright majority after last week's election and is aiming to strike a deal with the DUP to pass her legislative programme, made no comment as she left her Downing Street office.

While the DUP continue to hammer out the details of the arrangement with the Tories, the other four main parties at Stormont confirmed they would be meeting Mrs May on Thursday.

May, who ahead of the June referendum supported remaining in the European Union, has promised to start the formal Brexit talks next week, but opponents of a sharp break with the European Union took her woes as a chance to push back against her strategy.

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The deal also prompted Irish premier Enda Kenny to warn that such an alliance could upset Northern Ireland's fragile peace.

They met for over an hour even as former Conservative Prime Minister Sir John Major opposed any deal with DUP.

The Irish republican Sinn Fein party - which won seven seats in the election although MPs traditionally do not take up their seats in protest - is also wary of the alliance.

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"This new arrangement is very unsettling and people are concerned and anxious about what it may mean, or what promises may be given".

Foster will nearly certainly ask for greater investment in Northern Ireland as part of the deal, as well as guarantees on support for pension plans and for winter fuel allowances for older people.

She added: "It is a condition you can manage".

Media reports suggested an agreement could be delayed into next week, but the spokesman said: "I certainly have heard nothing on this side to indicate that". It is passing quicker than anyone believes because the subjects we have to deal with are extraordinarily complex.

"But let us be clear and organised and once the negotiations have started we should be well aware that it'll be more hard to move backwards".

The European Parliament's chief Brexit negotiator Brexit Guy Verhofstadt said the EU wanted clarity from London as soon as possible on whether it meant to stick to its stance towards negotiations or alter it.

"I think there will be pressure for a softer Brexit", Mr Cameron added, saying that Parliament now "deserves a say" on the issue.

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

The comments from the two former premiers will embolden those Tory ministers who are privately plotting to soften May's stance on Brexit, potentially even allowing the United Kingdom to stay in the single market and customs union.

With formal European Union divorce talks due next week, May heads to France on Tuesday, possibly to bask in the popularity of Emmanuel Macron, who last month swept to victory in a presidential contest.

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