Restoring powersharing the priority as Brexit talks begin, says Irish minister

The Government claims it will allow Parliament the time to properly scrutinise the complex process of Brexit, but opposition parties say the Conservatives are anxious they will not get the support required to pass another Queen's Speech once Brexit negotiations get tough.

Prompted by her poor election showing, particularly among pro-EU young people who fear losses of jobs and opportunity from Brexit, some of her most senior ministers and two former Conservative prime ministers have called for a rethink.

The remarks came after warnings by the nationalist Sinn Fein and SDLP and the cross-community Alliance Party that a deal with the DUP would undermine the Government's attempts to restore the powersharing executive at Stormont.

"I will spare no effort to fulfil the [Irish] government's duty as co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement", Mr Coveney said.

The intervention comes after Brexit Secretary David Davis was seen to have been dealt a blow in the opening day of withdrawal negotiations with the European Union, after it was agreed trade deal talks would not begin until October at the earliest. "We do believe we are getting traction and we are going to continue in that vein", she said.

The parties have until 29 June to reach agreement and have been warned that direct rule could follow if they can't.

"We will go in to speak with Sinn Fein again on Monday morning to try and get that set up as quickly as possible, because devolution works and works for everybody in Northern Ireland".

A Whitehall source said last night: "This is a clear sign that the Commission has caved in to our highly determined negotiators who have been supported throughout by the Irish".

The Taoiseach said he would be emphasising this to the Prime Minister.

"That is why Sinn Fein stood the DUP leader down from her position last January", he said.

Foster yesterday dismissed suggestions her deal with Theresa May has undermined the Peace Process in the North.

"As long as progressive social policies are not imposed by a British government on the Northern Ireland Assembly, the DUP are not interested in changing such policies in Britain itself", Mr McCartan reckoned.

"Northern Ireland is perhaps the most vulnerable part of Europe to a bad Brexit deal, should that happen", said Mr Coveney.

Speaking in Downing Street alongside Mr Varadka, Mrs May dismissed these concerns as she claimed her government "remains absolutely steadfast" in its commitment to upholding the Good Friday Agreement.

It means the programme is at some risk after the humiliating Tory failure to win a majority at the election earlier this month.

"We know each other and we understand each other", she said.