UK Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking a deal with a small Northern Irish party as she tries to stay in power after last week’s general election.
Media reports suggest moves are afoot within May’s own Conservative Party to dislodge her.
The Conservatives won 318 House of Commons seats in Thursday’s election, eight short of an outright majority. Labour, the main opposition party, won 262.
What is the Labour Party saying?
That May should be ousted and replaced by Jeremy Corbyn.
Speaking on Sunday morning, Corbyn said: “Is it credible that with all the issues facing our country, all the issues of inequality, injustice and the Brexit talks and everything else, that you have a government that cannot actually gain a majority in the House of Commons except by doing a deal with a very socially conservative DUP? Come on, we need something more responsible than that.”
A buoyant Corbyn says Labour is capable of forming a govenment.
“I can still be prime minister. This is still on,” he told reporters.
He says Labour will seek to vote down May’s Queen’s Speech, in which she sets out her programme for government. Another national election might be needed to break the deadlock, he said, either at the end of the year or early next year.
What can Theresa May do?
Her only hope of forming a government is to win support from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which won 10 seats. She is seeking a so-called “confidence and supply” deal. This would involve the DUP supporting the Conservatives on key votes but not joining a formal coalition.
Her Downing Street office initially announced on Saturday that the “principles of an outline agreement” had been agreed with the DUP.
Downing Street later backtracked, saying May had “discussed finalising” a deal in the coming week.
What would a deal with the DUP look like?
No one knows yet. Many critics have expressed concerns over the DUP’s stance on issues like gay marriage and abortion among others.
Others have voiced concerns that a Conservative-DUP deal could endanger Northern Ireland’s peace settlement, which relies on the UK government being a neutral arbiter between those who want the province to remain in the United Kingdom and those who want it to become part of the Republic of Ireland.
What has the DUP said?
Leader Arlene Foster says she will meet May at Downing Street on Tuesday: “I’m not going to negotiate over the airwaves but what I will say is that we will of course act in the national interest and do what’s right for the United Kingdom as a whole and, of course, Northern Ireland in particular.”
What about the Brexit talks?
The latest political turmoil comes as the UK is due to start negotiating its exit from the EU on June 19.
The talks, which are likely to be of unprecedented complexity, are supposed to wrap up by the end of March 2019 when the UK actually leaves.
What they are saying
“Theresa May is a dead woman walking,” – former Conservative Chancellor George Osborne who was sacked by May when she became prime minister last year.
“This is not the time for sharks to be circling. This is the time for us to come together as a party,” – Culture Minister Karen Brady told reporters.