Updated: 26/06/17 : 07:25:39
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DUP return to London to finalise Tory prop-up deal

DUP leader Arlene Foster has returned to London with hopes of concluding a deal with Britain's Conservative Party in the coming days.

The two parties have been locked in talks for two weeks on a confidence and supply deal to prop up UK PM Theresa May's minority government.

It comes ahead of a crucial vote on a speech by Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday.

Despite fears a pact could complicate talks to restore the Northern Ireland Executive, Mrs Foster said she was confident her party would clinch agreements in Westminster and Stormont.

She said: "We're back in London again and my hope is that we will be able to finalise the deal between ourselves and the Conservative Party.

"I think that this agreement will bring the prospects of doing a deal at Stormont closer because this will have a positive impact in relation to Northern Ireland.

"I very much hope that this week we will be able to conclude on two agreements."

Mrs Foster added the terms of a DUP-Conservative agreement would be "completely transparent" and made public.

It comes as former Tory chairman Chris Patten warned that the Conservatives would look like the "nasty party" if it cut a deal with the "toxic" Democratic Unionists.

"What the DUP want to do is to sell their votes at every opportunity, and this on the assumption that somehow Northern Ireland has been disadvantaged by public spending over the years," Patten told ITV's Peston on Sunday.

"Every vote will cost you. Every vote you will have to find some way of paying for it and then explain to the Scots and the Welsh and people in the North East why they can't have the same thing too."

On Sunday, the DUP's leader in Westminster said those who hold different views on social issues like gay marriage and abortion have no reason to fear the party's influence.

Nigel Dodds said he and colleagues had been misrepresented as "dinosaurs".

He said: "People can always go back through the archives of any political party and find individuals saying things or policies from 20, 30 years ago.

"But they need to read our manifesto and look at the recent years in Northern Ireland where the DUP has been the main partner in government with republicans to move this province forward."