May Edges Toward Deal With DUP to Keep Grip on Power

  • Talks with Conservatives going well, DUP’s Donaldson says
  • DUP will have real input into Brexit policy, Donaldson says

May Seen to Pay High Price for DUP's Brexit Support

The Conservatives and Democratic Unionist Party are close to a deal to keep Prime Minister Theresa May in power, senior figures on both sides signaled.

May is seeking the support of the DUP’s 10 lawmakers in the House of Commons after being stripped of her majority in this month’s election, with negotiations centering on extra money for Northern Ireland and plans for the U.K.’s exit from the EU. The two parties failed to reach an agreement before Wednesday’s Queen’s Speech.

“The prime minister is moving this process forward, she’s engaged now and we welcome that,” Jeffrey Donaldson said in a BBC Radio 4 interview on Thursday in London. The chances of a deal are “very good,” he said.

Chancellor Philip Hammond also said on BBC radio that he was “confident” a deal could be reached, calming concerns that the DUP could pull out of talks. The party is demanding investment in Northern Irish infrastructure in return for its support, Donaldson said, and will have a significant input into Brexit policy.

“We’ve been around negotiations a long long time,” said Donaldson. “I’ll say this about Ulstermen and Ulsterwomen - we’re no pushover.”

While DUP leader Arlene Foster has said she wants a “sensible” Brexit, she hasn’t spelled out what that means exactly. Foster is looking for a“frictionless border” with the Irish Republic after the U.K. exits the European Union. At the same time, the DUP wants the U.K. to exit the customs union.

The EU says it’s looking for “flexible and imaginative” solutions on the border question, chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said in Dublin last month.

“We have a duty to speak the truth,” Barnier said. “Customs controls are part of EU border management.”

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