British Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said Sunday talks were still ongoing with the Democratic Unionist Party on seeking its support for a Conservative government after earlier saying an outline agreement had been reached.
May’s Conservatives lost their parliamentary majority in a humiliating election Thursday and now need the support of the 10 MPs from Northern Ireland’s ultra-conservative DUP to pass votes, sparking widespread calls for her to resign.
“The prime minister has tonight spoken with the DUP to discuss finalising a confidence and supply deal when Parliament returns next week,” a Downing Street spokeswoman said, referring to a deal whereby the DUP would support the government but not enter a formal coalition.
“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.”
The statement came as British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson denied plotting to topple May, who has been weakened by the Conservative Party’s disastrous election result.
Johnson tweeted that an article in the Mail on Sunday newspaper headlined “Boris set to launch bid to be PM as May clings on” was “tripe.”
He said: “I am backing Theresa May. Let’s get on with the job.”
In the Sunday Mirror, opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who scored hefty gains in the election, said there was still a chance for him to be prime minister if May failed to form a government.
“This is still on,” he said, adding he would vote down the government’s programme when it comes before parliament this month.
The DUP said the “talks so far have been positive”, adding: “Discussions will continue next week to work on the details and to reach agreement on arrangements for the new Parliament.”
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.
May is struggling to reassert her leadership, having called an election three years early hoping to strengthen her hand going into Brexit negotiations – only to see the gamble backfire spectacularly.
Sunday’s newspapers were unsparing, with The Observer writing: “Discredited, humiliated, diminished. Theresa May has lost credibility and leverage in her party, her country and across Europe.”
Read more: SCMP