British Prime Minister Theresa May reached an “outline agreement” with the ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party in order to be able to govern after a humiliating election that has left her authority in tatters.
She also confirmed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a phone call yesterday that Britain was ready to begin Brexit negotiations “as planned in the next couple of weeks’, reassuring EU leaders who had expressed doubts after May’s electoral losses.
May’s Conservatives lost their parliamentary majority in Thursday’s vote and need the support of the 10 MPs from Northern Ireland’s DUP to have a majority.
“We can confirm that the Democratic Unionist Party have agreed to the principles of an outline agreement to support the Conservative government,” a spokesman for May said.
The spokesman indicated this would not be a formal coalition but a minority government with looser DUP support on a “confidence and supply basis”.
“We welcome this commitment, which can provide the stability and certainty the whole country requires as we embark on Brexit and beyond,” he said.
The details of the agreement “will be put forward for discussion and agreement” at a cabinet meeting tomorrow, a day before the new parliament meets, the spokesman said.
There was no mention of what concessions the DUP may have asked for, amid growing concern about the influence of a party opposed to abortion and gay marriage, and which has proved hugely controversial in the past over the homophobic and sectarian views of some of its representatives.
May yesterday lost her two closest aides as she struggled to reassert her leadership after a crushing election setback.
The Conservative leader has been warned that her days are numbered after calling Thursday’s vote three years early hoping to strengthen her hand going into Brexit negotiations with Brussels, only to lose her majority.
Senior party figures have cautioned against any immediate leadership challenge, saying it would cause only further disruption as Britain prepares to start the Brexit talks as early as June 19.
But media reports suggest they had demanded the departure of May’s joint chiefs of staff, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, as the price for allowing the 60-year-old vicar’s daughter to stay in office.