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May could win backing of Northern Irish kingmakers in third Brexit vote – report

LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Theresa May’s hopes of getting a Brexit divorce deal through parliament were given a boost on Saturday after a report that the Northern Irish party propping up her government might move towards backing her deal.

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May is seen outside Downing Street in London, Britain March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which has 10 lawmakers in parliament, is close to changing its position for the first time after receiving a promise that the government would put into law a requirement that there be no divergence between Northern Ireland and Britain, the Spectator magazine said.

A cabinet minister involved in the talks with the DUP told the Spectator the chances of the party backing the government’s deal were around 60 percent.

After two-and-a-half years of tortuous divorce negotiations with the EU, the final outcome is still uncertain with options including a long delay, exiting with May’s deal, a disorderly exit without a deal or even another referendum.

To get her deal passed through parliament, May must win over dozens of Brexit-supporting rebels in her own Conservative Party and the DUP lawmakers. She is expected bring back the deal for a third vote after two historic defeats.

The DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said the party had good talks with British ministers, including the finance minister, on Friday to see what additional assurances would be needed for them to save her deal.

But the opposition Labour Party’s finance policy chief John McDonnell said on Saturday he was concerned that Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond’s presence during the talks means the government might have offered the DUP money to back the deal.

“It will rightfully be seen by the British electorate as corrupt politics and will demean our political system in the eyes of the world,” McDonnell said.

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