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No sign of DUP-Tory deal but main players insist it's still on the cards

Jeffrey Donaldson said the DUP was still keen to strike a deal with the Tories. Picture by Alan Lewis/Photopress

Both the DUP and the Tories are continuing to insist that they can still cut a deal that would see Theresa May's minority government propped up by Arlene Foster's party.

But after nearly a fortnight of negotiations, the mooted 'confidence and supply' agreement appears far from finalised.

Talks between the two parties continued in London yesterday though most attention was focused on the state opening of parliament.

The DUP and high-ranking Tories have been involved in discussions since the Saturday following June 8's Westminster election.

On Tuesday, DUP sources were telling journalists that the Conservatives "haven't proceeded in a way that the DUP would have expected" and cautioned that the party "can't be taken for granted".

The absence of any details about the deal yesterday led to further speculation about what the DUP is seeking in exchange for the support of its ten MPs.

There were reports that Mrs Foster's party was seeking an additional £1 billion for the north's health service and a similar amount for infrastructure, alongside its long-held desire to see the scrapping of Air Passenger Duty and a reduction in the regional corporation tax rate.

However, one DUP source told The Irish News that "in the absence of anything concrete, everything is now being lumped into the proposed deal".

The DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson said the two parties had identified the "key issues" that would form part of the agreement and that they were "making progress"

However, the Lagan Valley MP cautioned that he would not take anything for granted.

"A seasoned negotiator never reveals his or her hand in public but I'm confident we can get an agreement – we want to reach an agreement," he told Sky News.

He said party colleagues had "listened very carefully" to what Mrs May's government have said in the Queen's speech and that he and his colleagues "like a lot of what they've said".

"Clearly on Brexit, on counter-terrorism these are issues on which we have common ground with the government," Sir Jeffrey said.

"We have concerns about some of the policies that they talked about during the General Election but I think we're seeing those fade into the background."

The Tories' First Secretary of State Damian Green was also optimistic that the two parties could cut a deal.

"There's still the possibility, there's every possibility, of a DUP deal," he said on Radio 4's Today programme.

"The talks have been taking place in a constructive way – clearly, two political parties, we have some differences, but we have a lot in common."

Mr Green said both were "unionist parties at our heart".

"We're both, obviously, very concerned with combating terrorism, we both have similar views about delivering a good Brexit for this country, and, obviously, we're both very, very concerned with the Irish border issue," he said.

"All talks of this kind take a long time, they are still continuing."

Speaking after the queen's speech, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn voiced concerns about the impact of the deal.

"We also very much hope that any deal done in this place respects the overriding priority of the Good Friday Agreement," he said.

Sinn Féin Foyle MP Elisha McCallion claimed Mrs May was "prioritising a self-serving negotiation with the DUP over the Stormont talks"

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