Early Evening Summary
DUP: ‘constructive dialogue’ with government
Dodds: DUP still seeking assurances on backstop
The Liberal Democrat deputy leader, Jo Swinson, has been tipped as the frontrunner to replace the party’s outgoing leader Vince Cable, who announced plans to step down from the party in May.
Cable, the former business secretary in the coalition government, announced that he would set a timetable for his departure at the party’s spring conference this weekend.
Three MPs were expected to be in the running – Swinson, the former cabinet minister Ed Davey and the party’s education spokeswoman, Layla Moran.
Swinson, a coalition business minister, was highly likely to announce her candidacy, according to multiple sources.
One, who is close to Swinson, said: “Jo loves the party and is passionate about wanting it to succeed. She hears the calls for her to stand very clearly, and I would put money on her going for it.”
The Democratic Unionist party is locked in intensive talks to try to reach an agreement to allow it to back Theresa May’s Brexit deal, including with the attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, and the chancellor, Philip Hammond.
Downing Street is convinced the support of the DUP is key to unlocking the backing of many Conservative Brexiters when May brings her deal to the House of Commons on Tuesday for the third time.
The discussions, which are taking place on Friday and expected to continue into the weekend, are likely to cover the role of any future Northern Irelandassembly if the Irish backstop were used – one of the issues senior DUP leaders have asked for further clarification about.
Hammond is also attending a meeting in Downing Street on Friday with the DUP, first reported by the Sun, and the government is said to also be looking at what domestic legal guarantees could be offered to the party.
DUP and government discussing role of Stormont – report