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Northern Ireland's DUP wants "sensible Brexit", talks with May to continue

19 June 2017

UK Prime Minister Theresa May in the House of Commons, London, during its first sitting since the election.

It is thought that an announcement on an agreement will be delayed as a result of the Grenfell Tower tragedy - and may not come until next week.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is close to a deal with a far right-wing Northern Irish Protestant party to save her premiership, as she confirms Brexit talks will begin next week.

Citing unnamed sources, a report by The Times said Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond is pushing Mrs May not to leave the Customs union - an arrangement that guarantees tariff-free trade within the bloc but prohibits members from striking third-party trade deals.

It was reported that diary commitments meant finalisation of any deal could be delayed until next week.

"Any deal which undercuts in any way the process here or the Good Friday Agreement is one which has to be opposed", he said.

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He joked that he welcomed the prospect of a Queen's Speech once this "coalition of chaos has been negotiated", but said if this did not happen, he was "ready to offer strong and stable leadership in the national interest".

Yesterday, Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein said it would meet Mrs May in London today.

A senior Conservative source said: 'We are making a lot of progress.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster and deputy leader Nigel Dodds speak to the media at Stormont Castle ahead of talks aimed at restoring powersharing in Northern Ireland, in in Belfast, Monday, June 12, 2017.

Major, who helped lay the foundations of the 1998 agreement that ended two decades of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland when he was in government, said it would imperil the United Kingdom government's impartial role in the peace process.

Major said he feared the pact could undermine the fragile Northern Ireland peace process, which he was instrumental in brokering in its early days.

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Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said the government should put economic growth at the heart of its Brexit strategy, comments placing her in the camp of those advocating a closer trade relationship with the European Union, or "soft" Brexit.

"It's going to be hard".

Prime Minister May will then announce a Queen's Speech to Parliament which will contain measures that both the Tories and the DUP have agreed on. "There's no doubt about that, but perhaps an opportunity to consult more widely with the other parties on how best we can achieve it", he said at a conference in Poland. But pressure was mounting on Mrs May to change course on the type of Brexit Britain should pursue, and consult more widely across rival parties.

Sinn Fein, which won seven seats in the British parliament at last week's election but will maintain its policy of not taking them, said its leader in Northern Ireland, Michelle, O'Neill would repeat those concerns in London on Thursday.

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.

She also gave a glimpse into the issues on the table, saying Brexit, counter-terrorism, and "doing what's right" for the Northern Ireland economy were among the key issues being thrashed out.

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Northern Ireland's DUP wants