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Downing Street chaos: Statement on DUP agreement ‘made in error with talks still ongoing’

The DUP confirmed that although talks are ongoing, the party has not yet agreed to support the Tories on a “confidence and supply basis”.

The party told Sky News: “The DUP today held discussions with representatives of the Conservative Party in line with Arlene Foster’s commitment to explore how we might bring stability to the nation at a time of great challenge.

“The talks have so far been positive. Discussions will continue net week to work on the details and to reach agreement on arrangements for the new Parliament.”

Downing Street issued its own statement in an attempt to clarify the status of the talks.

It said: “The Prime Minister has tonight spoken with the DUP to discuss finalising a confidence and supply deal when Parliament returns next week.

“We will welcome any such deal being agreed, as it will provide the stability and certainty the whole country requires as we embark on Brexit and beyond.

“As and when details are finalised both parties will put them forward.”

It comes after Number 10, still reeling after Thursday’s shock election result, earlier released a statement overstating the progress of the talks.

The statement said the DUP had already agreed to the principles of a proposal to support the Conservatives.

An agreement between the two parties would see the Unionists support the Tories on crucial votes when Parliament returns next week.

Theresa May sent Gavin Williamson, her chief whip, to Belfast to lead talks with the Northern Irish party’s officials.

In a speech outside Downing Street, Mrs May expressed her desire to support “friends and allies” in the party before her Queen’s Speech on June 19.

An online petition, however, has amassed more than 640,000 signatures demanding an alliance with the DUP is stopped, amid concerns over its stance on gay rights, abortion and the death penalty.

Sinn Fein has already accused the DUP of betraying Northern Ireland’s interests over the pact, with Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill predicting a confidence and supply deal would “end in tears”.

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