Monday 24 July 2017

'May's DUP deal would be illegal,' says Adams

Sinn Féin’s Northern Ireland leader Michelle O’Neill, left, party president Gerry Adams, and deputy Mary Lou McDonald after Downing Street talks. Photo: PA Wire
Sinn Féin’s Northern Ireland leader Michelle O’Neill, left, party president Gerry Adams, and deputy Mary Lou McDonald after Downing Street talks. Photo: PA Wire

Christopher Hope

Gerry Adams attempted to dictate terms to Theresa May yesterday by telling her that she could not form a government with the backing of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

The Sinn Féin president said he had told the British prime minister "very directly" that she was "in breach of the Good Friday Agreement" by trying to agree a deal with the DUP to support her minority government in the Commons.

Mr Adams said his party would not take its seats in Westminster or swear an oath to the queen, joking: "No harm to her."

It follows warnings from John Major, the former British prime minister, that the government will compromise its impartiality in the North if it enters a confidence and supply deal with the DUP at Westminster.

The 1998 Good Friday Agreement commits the British and Irish governments to demonstrate "rigorous impartiality" in their dealings with the different political traditions in Northern Ireland.

Mr Adams was speaking hours after No.10 said the queen would open parliament on Wednesday and set out Mrs May's planned laws in the Queen's Speech.

That will come after the start of the first round of talks about leaving the European Union on Monday.

Nigel Dodds, the DUP deputy leader, suggested that any "confidence and supply" deal might not be signed by the time of the Queen's Speech. Sources said it could be signed on Tuesday or Thursday.

This could mean that Brexit talks could begin and parliament is opened without Mrs May being able to agree terms with the DUP to support a minority Conservative government.

With her tally of Conservative MPs reduced to 317 in last week's poll, Mrs May needs the backing of the DUP's 10 members to reach the 320 required for a working majority in the House of Commons.

A Tory source said Mrs May was "confident" of getting the Queen's Speech through the Commons whether or not a deal was reached with the DUP.

The decision to have it two days later than the scheduled date of June 19 was made after Mrs May's regular audience with the queen on Wednesday.

The state opening will be much reduced in scale, with the queen arriving in a Bentley and wearing a dress rather than robes because of the event's proximity to Trooping the Colour on Saturday, palace sources said.

The queen, who has already cancelled the annual garter ceremony on Monday, will travel on to Royal Ascot after the state opening. Tim Loughton, a former Tory minister, was critical of the timing. He said that having annoyed most pensioners with the Tory manifesto, Mrs May was "determined to include our most pre-eminent one too" through the clash with Ascot. (© Daily Telegraph London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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