Sinn Féin must put devolution talks first, warns Foster

Sinn Féin must put devolution talks first, warns Foster

The Conservative leader lost her parliamentary majority in last week's election and is now desperately seeking the backing of the 10 MPs from Northern Ireland's ultra- conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Sky sources say a deal was unlikely to be unveiled today, given the fatal fire at Grenfell Tower in west London.

The Assembly election campaign exposed many divisions between the two main parties on issues such as legislative protections for Irish language speakers and how to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

The BBC's assistant political editor Norman Smith said the DUP was likely to demand money for investment in Northern Ireland and an end to austerity. "We are going into these talks with the national interest at heart".

At a joint press conference with Mrs May in Paris on Tuesday night, French President Emmanuel Macron suggested that the door was still open for the United Kingdom to remain within the European Union.

Mrs May stressed that Brexit would happen and the timetable remains on course.

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".

"We want the European Union to continue to remain strong and we want to continue to cooperate". Once done, however, Brexit would be hard to reverse.

"They would see it as the government paying cash for votes in parliament".

The PM has rejected claims the deal would undermine its duty to be impartial in Northern Ireland.

She said: "I think there is a unity of goal among people in the United Kingdom".

Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams turned Mrs May's own slogan against her to brand it "a coalition of chaos", adding: "Any deal which undercuts in any way the process here or the Good Friday Agreement is one which has to be opposed".

While the DUP are deeply eurosceptic, they have balked at some of the practical implications of a so-called hard Brexit - including a potential loss of an open border with the Republic of Ireland - and talks will touch on efforts to minimise the potential damage to Northern Ireland.

He said May would still be able to win Commons votes as the conservative DUP would not vote to bring down a Tory government as that would increase the chances of another election resulting in Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party winning power.

The Prime Minister will be desperate to get agreement from the DUP to back her legislative programme in the House of Commons or risk her government falling.

The performance of the British economy could also influence perceptions of Brexit.

Divisions over Europe helped sink the premierships of Margaret Thatcher, Major and Cameron, and many of her lawmakers and party membership support a sharp break with the EU. Data on Wednesday showed average weekly pay in the three months to April fell by 0.4 per cent on the year in inflation-adjusted terms - the biggest fall since the three months to September 2014.

The veteran conservative predicted that Britain would regret its departure from the bloc at some point in the future.

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