Arlene Foster returns from talks amid rumours Tory deal may be delayed due to London fire

Arlene Foster has returned to Northern Ireland after meeting with Theresa May, as the British Prime Minister continues to try and form a government.

The DUP leader has left her colleagues to continue talks with the Tories.

Yesterday, Mrs Foster described her discussion with the PM as ’very good’, insisting she hopes to reach a conclusion sooner rather than later.

The Guardian are reporting , however, that any announcement of a deal is likely to delayed until next week following the devastating tower block fire in west London.

They report that any such delay would mean the Queen’s speech, originally planned for Monday, could be put back by at least a week and also delay the start of Brexit talks.

The news comes as the British Prime Minister announced she is to meet all Northern Ireland's main parties as Stormont politicians continue to voice fears her anticipated parliamentary deal with the Democratic Unionists will undermine the peace process.

Theresa May will hold talks with the DUP, Sinn Fein, the SDLP, the Ulster Unionists and Alliance Party in separate engagements at Downing Street on Thursday afternoon.

The move comes amid concerns the Government will compromise its stated impartiality in the region if it enters a confidence and supply deal with the DUP at Westminster.

Sir John Major is one of those urging caution.

Sinn Fein, the SDLP and Alliance have all made clear Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire cannot chair the ongoing process to restore powersharing at Stormont due to their perception he has a conflict of interest.

The 1998 Good Friday Agreement commits the UK and Irish governments to demonstrate "rigorous impartiality" in their dealings with the different political traditions in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill said: "I will be making it very clear that any deal between the Tories and the DUP cannot be allowed to undermine the Good Friday and subsequent agreements."

Meanwhile, Tim Farron has resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats.

His party won 12 seats at last week’s general election - an increase of four on 2015.

Flanked by MPs and supporters, he said he couldn’t carry on because of continuing questions over his Christian faith.


 

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