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Queen’s Speech to go ahead with or without DUP deal

Delay: The Queen yesterday PICTURE: GETTY

THERESA MAY will press on with the Queen’s Speech regardless of whether she reaches a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party before Wednesday’s State Opening of Parliament.

Talks with the DUP on a deal to shore up the prime minister’s minority administration are ‘progressing well’, a senior Conservative source said.

The parties have reached ‘broad agreement’ on the principles of the speech.

Talks: Theresa May and Arlene Foster

In it, the Queen — who visited Tower Hamlets yesterday — will set out the government’s programme for the coming year.

An ‘ongoing dialogue’ with the DUP, led on the Conservative side by chief whip and close May ally Gavin Williamson, is continuing.

But Tories were unwilling to say what meetings are expected over the coming days.

DUP leader Arlene Foster, who met Mrs May at No.10 on Tuesday, is understood to have returned to Northern Ireland.

The Conservative source said there was no need for a deal to be sealed in order to press ahead with the speech.

Mrs May wanted the government to ‘get on with its business’. That business includes Brexit talks between the UK and the European Union, which will start in Brussels on Monday despite the two-day delay to the Queen’s Speech.

Brexit secretary David Davis will travel to the Belgian capital for talks with the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier.

■ LORD HAIN accused the Tories of ‘putting party before peace’ by seeking a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party. The former Labour Northern Ireland secretary said the government could not be a ‘neutral facilitator’ in the province, as the Good Friday Agreement envisages, if it was dependent on one party there for its Commons majority. A Tory spokesman said Mr Hain was ‘misinformed and wrong’.