UK Parliament opening date set, suggesting Tory deal reached

Prime Minister Theresa May's government has bowed to European Union demands to focus the initial stage of Brexit talks on the terms of the U.K.'s departure rather than trying to arrange a future trade relationship at the same time, according to two EU officials with knowledge of the preparations.

Though on the surface, Thursday's meeting with Northern Irish parties is aimed at breaking the logjam in forming a new cross-party regional government in the province, May needs broader acceptance of a Conservative-DUP deal.

The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has long argued that the initial talks should center on brokering deals on citizens' rights, money owed by the United Kingdom and the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

"But we have to be honest, it will take much more than that for us to be convinced that the DUP tail is not wagging the Tory dog", he told reporters.

"We want to see an administration set up again that will last and one that will last for all of the people of Northern Ireland", said Ms Foster outside Dublin's Government Buildings.

Although sources from both No.10 and the DUP say discussions are "progressing", the PM is yet to confirm whether an agreement will be reached in time.

The announcement followed speculation that talks may have to be delayed because of the inconclusive outcome of last week's General Election, which has already forced the State Opening of Parliament to be put back from June 19 to 21.

Varadkar, who took office on Wednesday, is the first openly gay Irish leader, while the DUP has faced repeated allegations that it has homophobic views. "We are confident there will be sufficient support for passing the Queen's Speech".

The pair got to know each other when they were each responsible for tourism policy as ministers.

May's government has said its Brexit plans remain the same, and her Brexit minister David Davis will be pressing for close economic ties but a clear break with the bloc to be able to control immigration and restore sovereignty over British laws.

May has dismissed calls to resign following the dismal election result after calling a vote three years early in the hope of bolstering her slim majority, only to actually lose seats. Talks between the two are ongoing but the opening of the new Parliament is set for Wednesday.

The FT, citing anonymous officials, said Davis would offer to guarantee the rights that European Union citizens now have in Britain, such as the freedom to move and work in the country, and aim to treat them "as fairly as they have been to this point".

The commission is awaiting the UK's response to papers outlining reciprocal rights for European Union nationals in Britain and Britons living in the European Union, and the financial settlement for Britain leaving the bloc. Her Conservative Party called such an arrangement "necessary" in its election manifesto.

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