Theresa May remains under pressure ahead of DUP talks

British leader reshuffles cabinet as Boris Johnson dismisses reports of leadership bid

Speaking on ITV's Peston on Sunday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan says Ireland is eager to commence Brexit negotiations as "uncertainty is the enemy" of business and stability. Video: ITV

 

Theresa May has reshuffled her cabinet amid continuing speculation about her future in Downing Street, as the Conservatives attempt to hold on to power with the support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Talks about a confidence-and-supply agreement between the two parties will resume on Monday in London following discussions in Belfast on Saturday.

Last night’s reshuffle saw the surprise return of Michael Gove as environment secretary and the appointment of Damian Green, a close friend and ally of the prime minister’s, as first secretary of state.

Ms May, who sacked Mr Gove when she took office last year, rejected the suggestion that his appointment was a reflection of her weakness after the election.

“What I’ve done today is see people from across the party accepting the invitation to be in my cabinet, and crucially I’ve brought in talent from across the whole of the Conservative Party. I believe that’s important. This is a government that is going to be governing for everyone, we want a country that works for everyone,” she told Sky News.

Crucial Monday meeting

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson yesterday dismissed newspaper reports that he was preparing a bid for the Conservative leadership amid speculation that Ms May could be forced out within weeks.

On Monday afternoon, she will face Conservative MPs at a meeting that could determine her fate but last night she declined to say how long she hoped to stay on as prime minister.

“I said during the election campaign that if re-elected I would intend to serve a full term. But what I’m doing now is actually getting on with the immediate job. And I think that’s what’s important, I think that’s what the public would expect. They want to see government providing that certainty and stability at what is a critical time for the country,” she said.

Northern Executive

Taoiseach Enda Kenny spoke to Ms May yesterday morning, warning that any deal she agrees with the DUP must not put the Good Friday Agreement at risk. Talks about restoring the Northern Ireland Executive resume at Stormont today but Sinn Féin, the SDLP and Alliance have called for an independent chairman to replace Northern Ireland secretary James Brokenshire.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said that because of the talks between the Conservatives and the DUP about a pact at Westminster, the Northern Secretary could not act independently or be an honest broker.

“If the DUP don’t prioritise the restoration of the institutions, and instead decide to become a prop for a dysfunctional minority government in London, then the parties should consider inviting an independent chairperson to oversee proceedings,” Mr Adams said.

Some Conservatives, including the party’s leader in Scotland Ruth Davidson, have expressed concerns about entering a pact with the DUP on account of their policies on LGBTI and women’s rights.

There was some confusion on Saturday when Downing Street said a deal was agreed in principle with the DUP but the DUP said the talks were still continuing. DUP leader Arlene Foster is to travel with her 10 MPs to London today where she will hold further talks with Ms May.