British Prime Minister Theresa May's office said on Saturday that Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) had agreed to the principles of an outline agreement to support her minority government, the Independent reported on Sunday.
May's Conservatives failed to win a majority in the British parliament in Thursday’s general election and now need the support of the 10 MPs from Northern Ireland's ultra-conservative DUP to to have a workable majority.
The Conservatives won 318 House of Commons seats in the election, eight short of an outright majority. The DUP won 10 seats.
“We can confirm that the Democratic Unionist Party 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,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.
"We welcome this commitment, which can provide the stability and certainty the whole country requires as we embark on Brexit and beyond.”
“The details will be put forward for discussion and agreement at a Cabinet meeting on Monday.”
Drowning in expectations
May had called the snap election with a view to increasing the narrow majority she had inherited from her predecessor David Cameron. At the start of the campaign, she was enjoying poll leads of 20 points or more over the main opposition Labour Party.
But after a poor campaign and an unexpectedly stiff challenge from the opposition Labour Party under leader Jeremy Corbyn, her plan went disastrously wrong, leaving her unable to form a sustainable government without DUP support.
The timing is challenging, with Britain due to start negotiating the terms of its exit from the European Union with the bloc's 27 other members on June 19.
The Conservatives now plan to reach a so-called confidence and supply agreement with the DUP, which would involve it supporting a Conservative minority government on key votes in parliament but not forming a formal coalition.
There was no mention of what concessions the DUP may have asked for, amid growing concern about the influence of a party opposed to abortion and gay marriage.
The DUP has proved hugely controversial in the past over the homophobic and sectarian views of some of its representatives.
The leader of DUP said on Sunday talks were ongoing with May with a view to supporting their minority government.
"We had very good discussions yesterday with the Conservative Party in relation to how we could support them in forming a national government, one that would bring stability to the nation and those discussions continue. We have made good progress but the discussions continue,"DUP leader Arlene Foster told Sky News.
The TV channel said Foster had told them she would be travelling to London to meet May at her official Downing Street residence on Tuesday.