Theresa May (pictured yesterday) has been scrambling to strike a deal with the DUP to keep her in power
Theresa May’s deal with the DUP to prop her up in Downing Street will not be sealed before the Queen’s Speech – and could take another week.
The Tories and the Northern Ireland party are said to have settled the main elements of an agreement, but haggling is still ongoing over the detail and there are complaints the process is being hampered by post-election turmoil in No10.
The delay in finalising the arrangement means the PM will have to unveil the government’s legislative plans tomorrow without being guaranteed an overall Commons majority.
It is expected to be a bare-bones package to minimise the potential for Labour, the SNP and Liberal Democrats to table wrecking amendments – which could drive the Conservatives from power.
Key measures will include laws to push through Brexit, and legislation to pave the way for trade agreements after we leave the EU.
The monarch is set to announce an immigration crackdown, tough action against terrorism in the wake of a series of atrocities.
There is also expected to be a series of major infrastructure proposals, including promoting space travel, high speed rail links and electric cars.
The parliamentary session is being extended to two years with ministers saying more time is needed to prepare for Brexit. The longer period also means that Mrs May will not have to face as many votes on would be regarded as confidence issues.
But there is increasing disquiet over the absence of a firm deal with the DUP so far.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling hinted today that the arrangement might not be finalised until votes on the Queen’s Speech in around a week’s time.
DUP leader Arlene Foster smiled as she arrived for talks at Downing Street with her deputy Nigel Dodds last Tuesday, and she is thought to be driving a hard bargain
Sinn Fein has accused Mrs May of breaching the Good Friday Agreement, but hinted that they would tolerate a deal with the DUP if it brought more funding for Northern ireland
‘We have got some days before we get to a vote on the Queen’s Speech,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
‘I am sure we will have a sustainable arrangement between the two parties when the time comes.’
The Treasury is believed to be taking its time to scrutinise the details – which include significant spending on Northern Ireland.
WHAT IS THE DUP DEMANDING?
The DUP’s manifesto called for a corporation tax rate of 12.5 percent – the same level as in the Republic of Ireland – or lower.
It also wants air passenger duty abolished for Belfast Airport, again bringing it into line with Ireland.
Although the party supported Brexit, it is determined there must not be a hard border with the Republic.
The DUP has also made clear it does not believe leaving the EU should hurt the economy – potentially opening the door to customs union membership.
There could also be pressure for significant spending commitments on infrastructure.
That could range from bus lanes to schools and hospitals.
There are also complaints about the way No10 is conducting the talks, after a string of core aides – including Mrs May’s chiefs of staff Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy left over the election.
Downing Street has also been scrambling to deal with crises including the Grenfell Tower blaze and the Finsbury mosque terror attack.
DUP sources suggested the talks had not ‘proceeded in the way expected’ and warned that its support ‘can’t be taken for granted’.
Party is urging the government to put ‘greater focus’ on the negotiations.
In the days following the bombshell result on June 8, Downing Street declared that the outline of an agreement had been done.
However, they were quickly contradicted by the Northern Ireland party’s leader Arlene Foster.
Mrs May met Mrs Foster in No10 on Tuesday and both parties insist good progress has been made, but no conclusion has been reached.
Some Tories – including ex-PM John Major – have been alarmed that an arrangement with Ian Paisley’s former party could damage the UK government’s claim to be impartial in the Northern Ireland talks.
There are also concerns that the DUP’s stance on issues like gay rights could be toxic for the Conservative brand.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Amber Rudd were among the ministers who gathered for a Cabinet meeting in Downing Street today
Michael Gove has been brought back as Environment Secretary as Mrs May struggles to get her government back on track in the wake of the election debacle
One bill in the Queen’s Speech will put Britain at the heart of new spaceflight technology, allowing UK companies to compete in an international market and generate highly-skilled jobs, and give others the chance to get licences for spaceflights.
The UK space industry is worth £13.7billion to the economy.
The global market for launching satellites is estimated to be worth £25billion over the next 20 years and the industry currently supports more than 38,000 jobs.
A second bill will give the green light to the next stage of High Speed 2 connecting the Midlands to the North West.
A third bill will allow for more infrastructure to support plug-in electric and hybrid cars to help them replace petrol and diesel models.