Conservatives to strike 'sensible' deal with DUP, says Grayling

Conservatives to strike 'sensible' deal with DUP, says Grayling

The 2016 State Opening of ParliamentImage copyright

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The Queen will announce the government’s legislative programme on Wednesday

A “sensible” deal will be struck with the Democratic Unionists, cabinet minister Chris Grayling has predicted.

Discussions designed to guarantee DUP support for Theresa May’s government have been going on for 10 days.

The transport secretary said the talks were “going well”, adding that the DUP did not want another election or Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street.

Commons votes on the Queen Speech take place next week and he said he was confident of DUP support in them.

After falling eight seats short of a majority in the general election, the PM will be reliant on the backing of the 10 DUP MPs to enable her to govern.

She is seeking to negotiate a so-called “confidence and supply” arrangement whereby the DUP will throw their weight behind the government in key Commons votes, such as on the Queen’s Speech and Budgets.

It is a week since DUP leader Arlene Foster visited Downing Street for talks with Theresa May, with reports that a final agreement is being held up by discussions over extra funding for Northern Ireland.

‘Not pessimistic’

The Queen will announce the government’s legislative programme for the year ahead – likely to be dominated by Brexit – on Wednesday.

Should Theresa May lose any votes on the Queen’s Speech, which are expected to take place the following Tuesday and Wednesday, it would amount to a vote of no confidence in the government and put its future in doubt.

But Mr Grayling told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he did not expect this to happen.

“The talks are going on but one thing I am absolutely certain of is that the DUP do not want to see another election and Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street,” he said. “We are having good, constructive discussions and I am confident we will reach a sensible agreement.”

Former Prime Minister Sir John Major has urged Theresa May to reconsider her approach, saying a deal with the DUP could threaten the Northern Ireland peace process and “carry baggage” for his party. He has said the Conservatives should be able to govern anyway with the DUP’s tacit support.

Asked about the repercussions if there was no agreement, Mr Grayling replied: “I am not pessimistic about this. I think we will have a sensible arrangement.

“We have got some days until we have a vote on the Queen’s Speech. It is not on Queen’s Speech day. The vote happens many days later as we have an extended debate first and I am sure we will have a sensible arrangement between the parties when that time comes.”

The DUP had made it clear, he added, that they did not want “an unstable government undermining our union” and wanted to see us “go ahead with the Brexit negotiations with a sensible government in place”.

Source: BBC News – Northern Ireland

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