The leader of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, Arlene Foster, said on Tuesday that talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May to support a new government were going well and she hoped to successfully conclude them soon.
But to stay in government, May must strike a deal with a small eurosceptic Northern Irish party with 10 parliamentary seats, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
The DUP gained 10 seats in the election last week.
DUP leaders, Arlene Foster and Nigel Dodds, are now in the Westminister to discuss the possibility of post election ties.
After House Speaker John Bercow was re-elected without challenge, a chastened May quipped: "At least someone got a landslide".
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn countered with a bit of previously unseen swagger, wearing a huge red rose - his party's symbol - in his lapel as he sparred with May and taunted her about the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming vote on her legislative program, known as the Queen's Speech.
In a meeting with the Northern Irish party's leader, Arlene Foster, May will thrash out the terms of a deal that will allow her to get legislation through Parliament.
MPs returned to Westminster on Tuesday for the new parliamentary session, after May spoke at a crunch 1922 committee meeting in which she apologised to Tory backbenchers for the party's election performance.
"What we're doing in relation to the talks that we're holding, the productive talks we're holding with the Democratic Unionist Party, is ensuring that it is possible to, with their support, give the stability to the United Kingdom government that I think is necessary at this time", May told a news conference in Paris following a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron. The Evening Standard, edited by ex-Treasury chief George Osborne, reported that Cabinet ministers have initiated talks with Labour lawmakers to come up with a "softer", less hard-line divorce from the EU.
Pressed on the reports, Environment Secretary Michael Gove declined to deny it.
She also accepted in the meeting that her authority was "extremely fractured" and she was no longer "calling the shots".
"If we are able to do a deal that brings more economic prosperity to Northern Ireland surely that's a good thing for all of our people in Northern Ireland", the DUP leader commented.
It is thought Mrs Foster, despite being a Brexit supporter, could seek assurances from Mrs May that she will pursue a softer exit from the European Union, given Northern Ireland's 56% Remain vote and the DUP's desire not to see a return to a hard border with Ireland.
Even the idea of an alliance is complicated, however.
While peace in Northern Ireland was not in danger of collapsing imminently, it could "unwind".
The stakes for May are high. But a deal with the DUP risks destabilising the political balance in Northern Ireland by increasing the influence of pro-British unionists who have struggled for years with Irish Catholic nationalists who want Northern Ireland to join a united Ireland.Former Prime Minister John Major said he was concerned a deal with the DUP could thrust the province back towards violence almost two decades since a USA -brokered peace deal brought peace to Northern Ireland."The last thing anybody wishes to see is one or other of the communities so aggrieved that the hard men, who are still there lurking in the corners of the communities, decide that they wish to return to some form of violence", Major told BBC radio."I am concerned about the deal".
While Mrs May says they will have no veto on key policies, Mrs Foster says her party has the national interest at heart. British officials held "talks about talks" with the European Union's Brexit man in Brussels but actual negotiations, scheduled to start in a week's time, might be delayed by political upheaval in London.
"We stand at a critical time with those Brexit negotiations starting only next week - I think that stability is important".