Under pressure to soften Brexit, May meets Northern Irish 'kingmakers'


British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday was heading into hard talks with a hardline Northern Irish party on securing a working majority after a crushing electoral setback.

May's botched election gamble cost her Conservative Party its majority in the 650-seat parliament last week, weakening her hand just days before talks with the European Union on a divorce that has to be agreed before an exit due in March 2019, Reuters reported.

Ms Foster and the DUP's leader at Westminster, Nigel Dodds, spent nearly two hours with the prime minister at Downing Street on Tuesday morning.

May held talks with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) on Tuesday. When asked about the Daily Telegraph article, Michael Gove, a minister who campaigned for Brexit, told ITV: "This is news to me".

"My main concern is the peace process", he said.

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Barnier's interview will heap yet more pressure on May, who called a snap general election to give her a stronger hand at the Brexit negotiating table.

Same-sex marriage campaigners in Northern Ireland have urged thousands of people to take to the streets in protest against the DUP.

Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster has tweeted that discussions with British Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party are "going well" and that she hopes for a conclusion soon.

The talks with the DUP follow May's apology to Conservative rank-and-file lawmakers in a meeting Monday that signaled she would be more open to consultation, particularly with business leaders demanding answers about the details on Britain's departure from the European Union.

"The parliamentary arithmetic is such that we are going to have to work with everyone", he said.

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May will then travel to Paris for a working dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron before the two leaders attend a friendly football match between England and France at the national stadium in Paris.

But a deal with the DUP would risk destabilising the political balance in Northern Ireland by increasing the influence of pro-British unionists who have struggled for years with Irish Catholic nationalists who want Northern Ireland to join a united Ireland.

"I am concerned about the deal".

Citing unnamed sources, a report by The Times said Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond is pushing Mrs May not to leave the Customs union - an arrangement that guarantees tariff-free trade within the bloc but prohibits members from striking third-party trade deals.

The opening was set to take place on Monday, but was delayed amid negotiations.

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