No UK govt deal likely Wednesday due to London fire: DUP


British Prime Minister Theresa May failed to strike a government deal in an initial round of talks with Northern Ireland's ultra-conservative DUP party on Tuesday, leaving the EU's Brexit negotiator wondering when divorce talks would begin.

Some observers have maintained that a deal with the DUP risks destabilising Northern Ireland by increasing the influence of pro-British unionists.

Under the proposed deal, the DUP would likely support May's Conservatives on big issues, such as the budget, Brexit and defence legislation on a vote-by-vote-basis.

"It will take us several months to draw out the conditions of an orderly withdrawal... so let's not waste time", he said.

After House Speaker John Bercow was re-elected without challenge, a chastened May quipped: "At least someone got a landslide".

May has dismissed calls to resign following the dismal election result after calling a vote three years early in the hope of bolstering her slim majority ahead of the Brexit talks.

With the Conservatives enjoying an enormous lead over Jeremy Corbyn's Labour anything other than a Tory landslide seemed unthinkable.

Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill said: "I will be making it very clear that any deal between the Tories and the DUP can not be allowed to undermine the Good Friday and subsequent agreements".

"I know plenty of people in that community who don't want to see marriage redefined and are quite content to live in partnership... it's all become a bit of a storm in a teacup".

She will have to manage conflicting demands from within her own party, including a proposal for business groups and lawmakers from all parties to agree a national position for Britain's most complex negotiations since World War Two.

"I'm afraid this new arrangement that sees the DUP propping up Theresa May and her Conservative government makes that increasingly hard".

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But with so much at stake for Britain and its $2.5 trillion economy, pressure was mounting on May from within and without her party to heed other voices.

These include a commitment by London to do more to attract Foreign Direct Investment into the province, improvement in connectivity between Northern Ireland and Great Britain - including a guarantee of direct access to London's hub airports.

May's government has said its Brexit plans remain the same, and her Brexit minister David Davis will be pressing for close economic ties but a clear break with the bloc to be able to control immigration and restore sovereignty over British laws.

Even the idea of an alliance is complicated, however.

However, the prospect of a deal has prompted warnings that it could upset Northern Ireland's fragile peace.

"We made the case to her that we would oppose any deal that undermined the Good Friday Agreement", he said.

The stakes for May are high.

Theresa May has signalled she is "confident" of getting the Queen's Speech through the Commons whether or not a deal is reached with the Democratic Unionists (DUP) by the State Opening of Parliament next week.

Asked about Schaeuble's comments, Macron said the EU's door was still open for Britain as long as the negotiations were not finished, but that it would be hard to reverse course.

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