UK Parliament opening date set, suggesting Tory deal reached

British Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservatives have reached a "broad agreement" with the ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party to prop up her minority government, a source told AFP on Thursday after her election fiasco.

Earlier, the leader of the lower house of parliament said the state opening of parliament would be held on June 21, when the government will set out its legislative agenda, suggesting the two parties had neared an understanding.

Detractors of the pact include former Conservative prime minister John Major, who said it risked Westminster's neutrality in an ongoing and fragile process.

The political map of Northern Ireland is now starkly divided and polarised.

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May is due to host the leaders of all Northern Ireland's parties at Downing Street to talk about the potential implications of any deal with the DUP over power sharing at Stormont. The UK government, which at that point gave up direct rule over Northern Ireland, was meant to be a neutral arbitrator between the parties.

DUP leader Arlene Foster, who met Mrs May in No 10 on Tuesday, is understood to have returned to Northern Ireland leaving her deputy Nigel Dodds to represent the party at Thursday's meeting.

On his talks in London with Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday, he said they had offered an "Irish solution to an English problem" as giving Northern Ireland special European Union status after Brexit to keep an open border on the island.

"There is very little time left. We need to get on with the job", said Grayling, after accepting that the election had a "disappointing result".

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Ms O'Neill said: "I will be making it very clear that any deal between the Tories and the DUP can not be allowed to undermine the Good Friday and subsequent agreements".

Brexit is another complicating factor in the mix.

On abortion, Mrs Foster said there is a broad swathe of consensus that the 1967 Act should not apply to Northern Ireland. The Common Travel Area is an open borders area comprising the Republic of Ireland and Britain.

Asked if it would no longer seek such a veto, Mrs Foster said she would not tie her party down in relation to that matter and discussions about the Petition of Concern system were continuing between the parties.

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