UK Prime Minister Theresa May will meet the leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) here on Tuesday seeking support to form a Conservative minority government, the media reported. May will host Arlene Foster in Downing Street to discuss terms of the DUP’s backing for her minority government, reports the BBC. According to sources, Tuesday’s discussions are likely to focus on the government’s legislative plans for the year ahead as well as the upcoming Brexit negotiations due to begin on June 19, and their particular implications for Northern Ireland’s border with the Republic of Ireland and trade. The Conservatives are having to rely on the support of 10 DUP MPs after they fell eight seats short of winning an overall majority in the June 8 snap general election.
May apologised to Conservative MPs on Monday, accepting personal responsibility for failing to win an outright victory and sacrificing the parliamentary majority she inherited from her predecessor David Cameron when she came to power last year following the UK’s vote to exit the European Union (EU). She told a meeting of backbenchers that she had got the party into “this mess” by calling the snap election and now “I’ll get us out of it”.
Her performance was roundly praised by Conservative MPs. In an article for the Times on Tuesday, the new Environment Secretary Michael Gove – who has clashed with May in the past – said she was the ideal person to secure a Brexit agreement that “commanded the widest possible support” given her track record of “seeing through vital jobs to the end”.
Amid calls from some MPs for the Conservatives to rethink their Brexit strategy, he said there was a “clear consensus” for leaving the single market and ending free movement while retaining the “maximum access” to EU markets and maintaining co-operation in key areas such as science. Conservative chief whip Gavin Williamson flew to Belfast on Saturday to begin formal discussions with the DUP, the BBC reported. Meanwhile, MPs will return to Westminster on Tuesday, the first time since the election. The House of Commons will also choose a new speaker and Lords will be sworn-in. May is also scheduled to meet French President Emmanuel Macron later in the day.