Humbled Theresa May sets out plans with DUP support in doubt

DUP leader Arlene Foster and DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds arriving at 10 Downing Street in London for talks on a deal to prop up a Tory minority administration. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

DUP leader Arlene Foster and DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds arriving at 10 Downing Street in London for talks on a deal to prop up a Tory minority administration. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Share this article
1
Have your say

The Conservatives will unveil their programme for government without knowing whether they have the necessary support to push it through parliament after the Democratic Unionist Party warned talks to secure a majority had stalled.

The Queen will read out a slimmed-down list of legislation at the State Opening of Parliament despite talks over a “confidence and supply” deal with the Northern Irish Unionists failing to reach a conclusion.

Meanwhile, Labour and the SNP signalled that they were ready to bring down the government when the Queen’s Speech is voted on next week.

The Conservatives need the votes of the DUP’s 10 MPs to ensure they can pass their legislative programme, and must prevent any rebellion on their own benches.

If there is no formal deal with the DUP by the time MPs give their verdict on the government’s plans, it will signal the start of the first minority government in the UK since the 1974 election.

However, the Unionists are expected to back the Prime Minister in order to avoid Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party gaining power.

READ MORE: What can we expect from the Tories’ Queen’s Speech?

A chastened Theresa May will promise to govern with “humility” and listen to the British people when she addresses parliament today following the Queen’s Speech.

She will promise to work to regain the trust of voters after failing in her gamble to secure a majority in a snap general election.

“The election result was not the one I hoped for, but this government will respond with humility and resolve to the message the electorate sent,” she is expected to say today.

“We will work hard everyday to gain the trust and confidence of the British people, making their priorities our priorities.”

It was confirmed yesterday that plans to introduce means-testing for free school meals in England and Wales will be abandoned, with other unpopular proposals in the Conservative election manifesto set to be ditched.

But amid growing calls from within her party and across the political spectrum for a rethink on the Conservative’s Brexit strategy, Mrs May will insist she has a mandate to take the UK out of the European single market and customs union. She will commit to working with the Scottish Government and other devolved administrations to secure a “smooth and orderly withdrawal” from the EU.

“We need to get Brexit right. That means getting a deal which delivers the result of last year’s referendum and does so in a way that commands maximum public support.

“Much has been said in recent days about what the General Election signified about Britain’s decision to leave the EU.

“The fact is that over 80 per cent of the electorate backed the two major parties, both of whom campaigned on manifestos that said we should honour the democratic decision of the British people.

“While this will be a government that consults and listens, we are clear that we are going to see Brexit through, working with Parliament, business, the devolved administrations and others to ensure a smooth and orderly withdrawal.”

READ MORE: SNP announces Westminster front bench team

DUP sources were quoted as saying a deal was “certainly not imminent” and that talks with Mrs May’s Conservatives “haven’t proceeded in a way that the DUP would have expected”.

Party sources warned that the DUP “can’t be taken for granted” and urged ministers to put “greater focus” on the talks to secure a majority.

One is reported to have complained that the group had “been surprised at the [low] level of negotiating experience” in Downing Street.

A Conservative source said: “Talks are ongoing with the DUP and we continue to work towards a confidence and supply arrangement.”

The source added: “While our discussions continue it is important the Government gets on with its business.

“That is why we are putting forward a Queen’s Speech which the whole House of Commons can get behind: securing a Brexit deal that works for every part of our country, strengthening our economy, making our society fairer, and keeping our country safe.”

An increasingly isolated Prime Minister was given a vote of confidence by the transport secretary Chris Grayling, who said it was not the time to change Prime Minister.

Mr Grayling told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I don’t think a change of prime minister should be on our agenda.

“What we’ve got to do is to go into the Brexit talks, deliver the right outcome.

“That’s what she’s committed to, it’s what we all want to see happen, it’s really important for our country that that’s what happens.”

Labour are expected to put forward amendments to the Queen’s Speech, with Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale saying the party was ready for another snap election in the autumn if they could defeat the government’s programme.

But she denied reports that talks were being held between opposition parties at Westminster over a deal to defeat the Conservatives, saying there was “no negotiation required” for smaller parties to back Labour’s amendments.

Back to the top of the page