After a spokesman from Downing Street announced in error Saturday night that No. 10 had come to a “confidence and supply” agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), both sides have issued statements confirming that talks are still ongoing.
Describing it as a “confidence and supply deal” rather than a coalition, a spokesman for Downing Street said Saturday night the DUP “have agreed to the principles of an outline agreement to support the Conservative Government on a confidence and supply basis when Parliament returns next week.”
He added: “We welcome this commitment, which can provide the stability and certainty the whole country requires as we embark on Brexit and beyond.”
However, the DUP have said that discussions with No. 10 will continue next week. Party leader Arlene Foster confirmed Sunday on Sky News she will meet with Prime Minister Theresa May in London on Tuesday.
In a statement, the Northern Irish party said: “The DUP held discussions with representatives of the Conservative Party in line with Arlene Foster’s commitment to explore how we might bring stability to the nation at this time of great challenge.
“The talks so far have been positive.”
A spokesman for Downing Street then backtracked on its earlier statement, saying: “The Prime Minister has [Saturday night] spoken with the DUP to discuss finalising a confidence and supply deal when Parliament returns next week.
“We will welcome any such deal being agreed, as it will provide the stability and certainty the whole country requires as we embark on Brexit and beyond.
“As and when details are finalised both parties will put them forward.”
The DUP retweeted a Sky News tweet which read that Sky sources said Downing Street had issued the wrong statement in error.
BREAK: DUP has NOT yet reached any agreement with the Tories. Sky sources: Downing Street issued the wrong statement in error.
— David Blevins (@skydavidblevins) June 10, 2017
The Conservative Party fell eight seats short of a majority in Thursday’s general election. Agreements being discussed between the DUP and the Tories would be an agreement which would see the DUP support the Conservatives on key votes such as on the budget.
The socially-conservative DUP, founded in 1971 by the late Ian Paisley (whose son Ian Paisley Jnr. is a DUP MP), won 10 seats in the general election, securing a third of all votes cast in Northern Ireland.
Key features from the DUP manifesto include reforming the BBC and abolishing the TV Licence Fee, lower taxes, ‘effective immigration’, and smaller government.
Evolving from the Protestant Unionist Party with historically strong links to the Protestant Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, the church Paisley founded, the party is pro-life and takes a conservative, Biblical view of marriage being between one woman and one man.
On Saturday, the gay leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, said LGBT rights are more important than the Conservative Party.
“I was fairly straightforward with [Mrs May] and I told her that there were a number of things that count to me more than the party… one of the others is LGBTI rights.”
She added that the prime minister, whose two chiefs of staff quit Saturday following the election results, had given her “categoric assurances” the Conservative Party “would use any influence that we had to advance LGBTI rights in Northern Ireland.”
Following the success of the DUP in Northern Ireland, party leader Arlene Foster promised her voters “to do everything we can to reward the trust you have placed in this Party”.
“[Thursday] also represented a great result for the Union,” she added. “Not just here in Northern Ireland but right across our United Kingdom. Those who want to tear apart the Union that we cherish and benefit from so hugely have been sent a clear and resounding message,” she said in an apparent criticism of the Scottish Nationists.