Theresa May apologises to own MPs for election 'mess'

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The prime minister's talks with the DUP came amid further pressure for a softening of her approach to Brexit and a call from former Conservative leader William Hague for a cross-party commission to direct her negotiating strategy.

I'm the person who got us into this mess and I'm the one who will get us out of it.

May's botched election gamble cost her Conservative Party its majority in the 650-seat parliament last week, weakening her hand just days before talks with the European Union on a divorce that has to be agreed before an exit due in March 2019.

Playing down the prospect of an immediate challenge to Mrs May's leadership, Brexit Minister David Davis - who has been touted as a contender to replace the prime minister - said speculation about her removal was "unbelievably self-indulgent".

The prime minister's most prominent potential rival, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, sought to quash any suggestion that she would be ousted imminently.

France's Macron said the EU's door was still open for Britain as long as the negotiations were not finished, but that it would be hard to reverse course.

May hopes with their backing her Conservative party will again command the majority it lost in last Thursday's election.

In the wake of Friday's setback, Conservative figures have said the party needs to learn the lessons of its failure to win an overall majority and change direction in some key areas.

Talks between the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) about a confidence and supply agreement are expected to continue on Wednesday after a meeting between Theresa May and Arlene Foster ended without a deal.

To stay in government, May must strike a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party, a small euroskeptic Northern Irish party with 10 parliamentary seats.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is close to a deal with a Northern Irish Protestant party to save her premiership, as she confirms Brexit talks will begin next week.

With British politics thrust into the deepest turmoil since last June's shock Brexit vote, European Union leaders were left wondering how the divorce talks would open next week.

Advocates of a "soft Brexit" scenario say Britain could retain access to the European single market like non-EU member Norway and allow certain levels of EU immigration.

Addressing a meeting of backbenchers, Mrs May reportedly said she would serve as "long as you want me to do".

The disastrous result also prompted calls - from within her own party - for her resignation, leading May to apologise to her own MPs on Monday evening.

Michael Gove, a former leadership rival, who was appointed environment secretary after losing his post as justice secretary in May's cabinet reshuffle previous year, said the PM is the ideal candidate to lead the country through Brexit.

Later, a Downing Street spokesperson said: "In the first Cabinet meeting since the election, ministers discussed the forthcoming Queen's Speech, including the legislative program required to deliver the best possible Brexit deal for the whole United Kingdom".

The deal also prompted Irish premier Enda Kenny to warn that such an alliance could upset Northern Ireland's fragile peace. The DUP does support Brexit, but does not agree with every aspect of the government's approach to date.

The DUP and Sinn Fein have also been at loggerheads recently over the collapse of a power-sharing agreement in Northern Ireland that has meant the province has had no government since January.

Gove, who was dismissed when May became prime minister previous year, will now serve as environment secretary.

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