Why gay rights could be a sticking point for new UK government

The Conservatives are looking to govern with anti-gay marriage party DUP

Why gay rights could be a sticking point for new UK government

British Prime Minister Theresa May at 10 Downing Street in London on Friday | Image: Ik Aldama/DPA/PA Images

British Prime Minister Theresa May will begin talks with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) over the next few days to keep her in power.

Mrs May needs the support of the party in Northern Ireland to have a majority in the British parliament, after the Conservatives lost 13 seats in Thursday's election.

She had expected to increase her majority, after promising people "strong and stable" leadership.

Mrs May has just nine days to make a deal before Brexit discussions with the EU begin.

She is clinging to power and facing a backlash from Conservative MPs over her election gamble that backfired.

Some top Tories are also unhappy that Mrs May has turned to the DUP - which opposes gay marriage - to prop up the party.

Northern Ireland is the only area of the UK in which gay marriage is not recognised.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who is engaged to an Irish woman, signalled her opposition by tweeting a link to a same-sex marriage lecture she gave last year.

Ms Davidson telephoned Mrs May and demanded assurances that she was not planning to ditch Tory commitments to gay rights in return for DUP votes.

According to many MPs, re-appointing the British Chancellor of the Exchquer Philip Hammond, who was tipped to be fired if the Tories won a big majority, is seen as sign of the Mrs May's weakness.

DUP leader Arlene Foster speaking at the Stormont Hote in Belfast after Prime Minister Theresa May has announced that she will work with
DUP leader Arlene Foster speaking in Belfast after UK Prime Minister Theresa Ma announced that she will work with the DUP to enable her to lead a government | Image: Brian Lawless/PA Wire/PA Images

"Credibility is shot"

Also re-appointed, the UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is said to be "on manoeuvres" and sounding out MPs about a leadership bid.

Loyalists but potential rivals Amber Rudd, David Davis and Michael Fallon also stay put, meaning it is as you were for the top five Cabinet ministers.

As she retreated inside No. 10, it was claimed Mrs May had to be told to apologise to her defeated MPs and ministers, by the chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, Graham Brady.

In a TV interview, she said: "As I reflect on the result, I will reflect on what we need to do in the future to take the party forward.

"I am sorry for those candidates and hard-working party workers who weren't successful but also particularly sorry for those colleagues who were MPs or ministers who had contributed so much to our country and who lost their seats and didn't deserve to lose their seats."

One Conservative MP, Heidi Allen, predicted she would be gone in six months. Other Conservative MPs are said to be taking soundings about removing Mrs May in the autumn.

Others such as Sarah Wollaston, Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan have also called for Mrs May to step aside - with the latter suggesting she should go within "weeks or months'" because her "credibility is shot".

After the backlash from her MPs Mrs May left Downing Street by the back door.

And nearly 24 hours after polls closed across Britain, the UK Labour Party finally took the central London seat of Kensington after three recounts, meaning the final tally remained at 318 seats for the Conservatives and 262 for Labour.