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May meets with Northern Irish Party

16 June 2017

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May will meet with a Northern Ireland-based party to see if they can together push through the Conservative Party's agenda after a disastrous snap election left her short of a majority in Parliament. "I can't say when it's going to be, but there is going to be such a referendum".

DUP leader Arlene Foster is due to meet May on Tuesday for crunch talks, which could force the delay of the government's presentation of its legislative programme to parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, due on June 19.

Mrs Foster said: "We've had some very good discussions today and those discussions are continuing this afternoon".

May will then travel to Paris for a working dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron before the two leaders attend a friendly football match between England and France at the national stadium in Paris.

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The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme was set up by Northern Ireland's Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in 2012, when current DUP leader Arlene Foster was in charge.

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Before the election, May proposed a clean break from the European Union, involving withdrawal from the European Union single market, limits on immigration and a bespoke customs deal with the EU.

It has been claimed that secret talks between senior cabinet members and Labour MPs have touched on remaining in the single market or customs union.

May's weakness means she must now listen to all shades of opinion on Brexit as she goes into Britain's most complex negotiations since World War Two.

"We need to be prepared for the unexpected". Hers was the latest cry for a "more inclusive process" in setting priorities for the exit negotiations with the EU. Barnier has said he wants to wrap up a Brexit deal by October 2018 so it has time to get through national parliaments and the European Parliament in time for Britain's departure from the bloc at the end of March 2019. But like Alice In Wonderland, not all doors are the same. "The current uncertainty can not continue", he said on Twitter.

The opposition parties are ready to oppose every proposal they don't like.

The nationalist Sinn Fein and SDLP and the cross-community Alliance have all made clear Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire can not chair the ongoing process to restore power-sharing at Stormont due to the perceived conflict of interest.

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The performance of the British economy could also influence perceptions: Data on Wednesday showed average weekly pay in the three months to April was down 0.4 percent, year-on-year, in inflation-adjusted terms - the biggest fall since the three months to September 2014. As such, Foster will be arguing for a "soft" Brexit maintaining the open border with the Republic of Ireland, whereas May had been pushing for a "hard" Brexit.

Theresa May insisted the Government was "absolutely steadfast" in its commitment to the Northern Irish peace process as she faced questions on whether a DUP-Tory alliance would put fragile agreements at risk.

He added that "a fundamental part of that peace process is that the United Kingdom government needs to be impartial between all the competing interests in Northern Ireland".

"I am concerned [by the need] to have a partner for the negotiation as quickly as possible", Barnier said.

The Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein, which wants the British province to join a united Ireland, said the prospect was causing anxiety and fear in Northern Ireland.

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