Desperate Tories could strike deal with the Lib Dems if ‘stupid’ DUP walks away

DESPERATE Tories could once again turn to the Liberal Democrats for backing as a deal with the DUP looks increasingly unlikely.

DUP theresa may deal conservativesGETTY            DUP leader, Arlene Foster, headed to talks in Downing Street

Less than 24 hours to go before the Queen’s speech, Theresa May has not yet secured an agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) for the necessary confidence and supply deal.Senior DUP sources cast serious doubt on the crucial deal being arranged in time.

They said the Tories needed to give “greater focus to discussions”, amid claims the party feels “taken for granted”.

There is speculation the Conservatives could turn to the Liberal Democrats and their 12 MPs in their bid to cling to power.

The two parties went into coalition in 2010, which is widely blamed for the Lib Dems losing dozens of MPs in the 2015 election.

Previously leader Tim Farron, who is stepping down, ruled out the possibility of another coalition with the Tories, saying there would be “no supply and confidence, no Coalition, no deal”.

A source told the Daily Telegraph: “The Conservatives needs to give greater focus to discussions. The DUP can’t be taken for granted.

“Negotiations haven’t proceeded in the way that we would have expected.”

Confusion continues to reign some 12 days after the snap election called by Theresa May, which saw her party lose their majority in a humiliating defeat.

DUP theresa may deal conservativesGETTY          Theresa May has not yet secured an agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)

DUP leader, Arlene Foster, headed to talks in Downing Street days after the shock result, but despite more than a week of negotiations nothing has been agreed between the parties.Mrs May needs the support of the Irish party’s 10 MPs to prop up her minority government, and faces the Queen’s Speech not passing a Commons vote.

It is widely thought Ms Foster is attempting to extract concessions including no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, and investment in the region.

Sticking points are also thought to surround Air Passenger Duty for airports in Northern Ireland and an increase in defence spending.

No supply and confidence, no Coalition, no deal

Tim Farron

But it is feared any preferential treatment for Northern Ireland will lead to calls for the same from Scotland and Wales.A DUP insider, said: “They attempted to bounce us into a deal on Saturday night and then we had the backbenchers saying that we were unsavoury.

“There is also a feeling within the DUP that if we can get extra spending in Northern Ireland in, say, the local NHS to bring down waiting lists here, then there would be a barrage of complaints from English, Scottish and Welsh Tories over the special treatment our part of the UK was receiving.

DUP theresa may deal conservativesGETTY             A Lib Dem source denied talks had taken place

“Conservative high command ought to stop their backbenchers whingeing about the DUP and show our party some respect.”The party is said to have regarded Downing Street’s negotiation style as “chaotic”, evident early on by the office being forced to issue a clarification statement.

Some 48 hours after the election a statement was put out alleging a deal was thought to have been struck, only for it to be retracted the next day.

As the clock ticks, it is believed informal conversations have been held with the Lib Dems’ whips office about a confidence and supply deal, if the agreement with the DUP falls through.

A Liberal Democrat source denied talks had taken place, adding while Mr Farron was leader no deal would be struck, although the incoming leader would not be bound by the incumbent’s words.

But they are thought to have some favourable qualities over their DUP colleagues from their experience in government.The source said: “The Government chief whip’s office is worried about the calibre of DUP MPs – unionist MPs don’t turn up.”

A Tory insider appeared to echo that sentiment, saying: “We always knew the Unionists were stupid but we thought they were at least hungry.

“It’s taken real will power to throw away the chance in front of them.

DUP theresa may deal conservativesGETTY           The June 8 election saw the Conservative’s lose their majority

“We’re amazed. Baffled. And there are two more Liberals anyway.”Amid the concerns, senior Conservative sources have claimed there is a “broad agreement” on principles such as delivering Brexit, securing the Union, combatting terrorism and spreading prosperity.

One said: “Talks are ongoing with the DUP and we continue to work towards a confidence and supply arrangement.

“As we have said, both parties are committed to strengthening the Union, combating terrorism, delivering Brexit and delivering prosperity across the whole United Kingdom.

“While our discussions continue it is important the Government gets on with its business.”That is why we are putting forward a Queen’s Speech which the whole House of Commons can get behind: securing a Brexit deal that works for every part of our country, strengthening our economy, making our society fairer, and keeping our country safe.”

The June 8 election saw the Conservative’s lose their majority, with their MPs reduced from 330 to 317.

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