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British cabinet discussed DUP talks

14 Juin 2017

The Conservatives are considering an arrangement in which the Northern Ireland party backs May on the budget and her confidence motions. Setting up checks and controls for Northern Ireland arrivals at ports and airports in Great Britain would create a border between the region and the rest of the United Kingdom, the party contends. "We must preserve the Good Friday agreement in all its dimensions, maintain the common travel area as it is, and respect the rules of the single market".

Foster said her party would go into the talks "with the national interest at heart".

May, who ahead of the June referendum supported remaining in the European Union, has promised to start the formal Brexit talks next week but opponents of a sharp break with the European Union took her woes as a chance to push back against her strategy.

Days after May lost her parliamentary majority in a failed electoral gamble, the premier welcomed the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party to Downing Street in a bid to gain the support of its 10 MPs.

As such, the DUP may seek enhanced borrowing powers or flexibility on budgetary controls rather than hard cash. While it wants more representation in Westminster, including a permanent Northern Ireland secretary in the cabinet, it is also calling for devolution to be respected by London.

In the draft, the Tories promised to "enhance" foreign office support for foreign direct investment into Northern Ireland. The DUP also wants city deals akin to those struck by cities like Glasgow and Manchester.

Both parties are agreed on raising the national minimum wage. Another move the DUP believes would help boost visitor numbers is a reduction in Value-Added Tax paid by tourism businesses.

The DUP wishes to scrap the bedroom tax and TV licences, retain the triple lock on pensions and abandon limits for who receives the winter fuel allowance. The Tories have already pledged to increase the minimum wage and the personal tax allowance.

Movement on security and legacy issues from the Troubles may prove more hard for Mrs Foster to extract from the Government.

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The call comes amid concern, shared by many Tory backbenchers, that police and prosecutors are placing an undue focus on the actions of state actors during the conflict and not rigorously pursing paramilitaries - an allegation the authorities deny.

This theme of "strengthening the union" would be likely to continue in 2017, as the DUP could push for a new definition of a victim which excludes perpetrators killed or injured during violent acts in the Troubles.

He also said a deal with the DUP would cost the Conservative Party a "bucketload" of votes at future elections.

British Prime Minister Theresa May took the blame for the ruling Conservatives' disastrous performance at last week's elections, as she faced her party's angry MPs on Monday, June 12, seeking to ward off any challenge to her leadership, AFP reveals.

Having helped deliver a number of major events to Northern Ireland, such as the Giro d'Italia and golf's Open Championship, the DUP may ask for support hosting other high-profile global show-pieces.

The pro-Brexit party is aware that 56 per cent of people in Northern Ireland voted to remain, and is campaigning for a so-called "softer Brexit". Whether the region gets to host Armed Forces Day will be a contentious issue.

However, it is unlikely these will feature in the negotiations with the Conservatives.

"The Tory civil war on the European Union which has ripped it apart since the Maastricht rebellions of the early 1990s, and which the referendum was supposed to solve, is now raging again", said Chris Grey, an academic who specializes in Brexit at Royal Holloway in London.

British cabinet discussed DUP talks