Theresa May defends proposals to govern with DUP

The British opposition have called on her to step down

Theresa May defends proposals to govern with DUP

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May listens as the declaration at her constituency is made for in the general election in Maidenhead, England. Image: Alastair Grant/AP/Press Association Images

The British Prime Minister Theresa May has apologised for the losses sustained by the Conservative Party, after it failed to win an overall majority.

But Mrs May says she hopes to secure the backing of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) - who won the majority of seats in Northern Ireland - to form a Westminster government.

The DUP, however, says it is still considering its position.

Speaking inside Downing Street, Mrs May said she would reflect on what she now needed to do to take the party forward after seeing a working majority of 17 wiped out.

She apologised to colleagues who had "contributed so much to our country" and "didn't deserve to lose their seats".

Shortly after her comments Downing Street confirmed that five high-profile Cabinet ministers would remain in place.

Philip Hammond will stay on as Chancellor of the Exchequer, as will British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

The UK's Defence and Brexit secretaries have also kept their jobs.

Calls to stand down

Facing down calls to stand down by Labour, the Lib Dems and even some of her own MPs, a defiant Mrs May has decided to cling on to power by forming a minority Conservative government.

Following a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II, she asserted only the Conservatives and the DUP have "the legitimacy and ability to provide that certainty by commanding a majority in the House of Commons" having secured the largest number of votes and the greatest number of seats in the UK general election.

She and her team are trying to produce a small working majority in coalition with the DUP.

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File photo of Arlene Foster (left) and British Prime Minister Theresa May | Image: Charles McQuillan/PA Wire/PA Images

She said the two parties had enjoyed "a strong relationship" over many years.

"This gives me the confidence to believe that we will work together in the interests of the whole United Kingdom," she said.

"This will allow us to come together as a country and channel our energies towards a successful Brexit deal that works for everyone.

"That's what people voted for last June. That's what we will deliver... now let's get to work."

'Best deal for Northern Ireland'

DUP MPs are meeting to discuss the situation.

In return for shoring up the Tory majority, the party has demanded considerable more resources for Northern Ireland and more influence and involvement in trade deals.

A formal agreement is yet to be reached.

DUP leader Arlene Foster confirmed she had spoken with Mrs May and that her party was in "discussions with the Conservatives to explore how it may be possible to bring stability to our nation at this time of great challenge".

"The DUP will always strive for the best deal for Northern Ireland and its people," she said.

"But equally we want the best for all of the United Kingdom - and these are challenging times.

"Negotiations on our exit from the European Union are about to commence, and we now face uncertainty at Westminster."

The move has been slammed as a "coalition of chaos" by Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, who condemned Mrs May for putting her "party before her country".

"She has been found out, she should be ashamed," he said.

"If she has an ounce of self respect, she will resign."

Britain has a hung parliament after the Conservatives lost their majority on an extraordinary night.

The Tories remain the biggest party with 318 seats so far and Labour currently has 261 - with 326 required for a majority and just one seat left to be called.

UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has also called on Mrs May to stand down, declaring he is "ready to serve the country" after Mrs May's snap General Election gamble spectacularly backfired.

The election result leaves Westminster in chaos with just 10 days before the Brexit negotiations are due to begin.

Mr Farron said Britain now had a government that was "weaker and less stable at a time when we are about to embark on the most difficult and most complex negotiations in our history".