Arlene Foster welcomes ‘useful discussion’ with Theresa May ahead of confidence vote

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DUP leader Arlene Foster MLA has met with Prime Minister Theresa May in Westminster to discuss the way forward on Brexit.

Mrs Foster, who was joined at the meeting by the party’s Parliamentary leader Nigel Dodds MP, described the meeting as “a useful discussion.”

Arlene Foster MLA and Nigel Dodds MP meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May in Westminster.

Arlene Foster MLA and Nigel Dodds MP meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May in Westminster.

The talks took place the day after Mrs May’s Brexit deal was emphatically rejected by MPs in the House of Commons, and just hours before MPs were due to vote on a motion of no confidence in the Government.

Speaking after the meeting, Mrs Foster said: “We have had a useful discussion with the Prime Minister. These are critical times for the United Kingdom and we have indicated that first and foremost we will act in the national interest.

“Lessons will need to be learned from the vote in Parliament. The issue of the backstop needs to be dealt and we will continue to work to that end.

“In keeping with our commitments in the Confidence and Supply agreement, which has benefitted every sector of society in Northern Ireland, the DUP is supporting the Government this evening so that we can concentrate on the real challenges ahead of us.

“We will have further engagements in the coming days.”

Meanwhile, speaking in the House of Commons during today’s debate on the no confidence motion, Mr Dodds called on the Prime Minister to reflect on the scale of last night’s vote and to “learn lessons” in order to move forward to secure a better deal. “Last night’s verdict was emphatic and clear. Now that the result is known, the Prime Minister must listen and learn lessons, particularly if she is to secure vital changes to the Withdrawal Agreement,” he said.

“The Government knows full well our concerns about the Brexit negotiations but we believe it is in the national interest to support the Government at this time so that the aims and objectives of the Confidence and Supply Agreement are achieved.

“Labour’s motion of no confidence is little more than opportunism and does not set out any genuine alternative programme for government. In the national interest the Prime Minister needs to be given time to deliver a better withdrawal agreement that can command our support in the House of Commons.”