The British government has promised to call a new election to Northern Ireland’s parliament within the next 12 weeks in a bid to break a political impasse that could eventually see direct governance from London.
The British government declined to set a date for the vote, which is likely to put a spotlight on the deep political divisions over post-Brexit trade rules.
“I’m under a legal duty to call an election within 12 weeks,” Chris Heaton-Harris, British government minister responsible for Northern Ireland told the press during a meeting in Belfast.
“You’ll hear more from me on that particular point next week,” he added.
The media in Northern Ireland are pointing to December 15th as the most likely date for the vote.
Northern Ireland has had absence of a functioning devolved government since February when the loyalist Democratic Unionist Party began a boycott of power-sharing in protest aimed at post-Brexit trading rules.
Elections held in May, when Irish nationalist rivals from Sinn Fein prevailed and took the most seats, failed to break the deadlock. The British government announced it is legally obliged to call a new election after 24 weeks, thetime frame having ended last Thursday.
The region’s main political parties informed they expect the vote will not change the situation and the overall process could anger the voters.
The DUP says it will not join a power-sharing government, which is compulsory in Northern Ireland, until their concerns about the post-Brexit trading arrangements under the Northern Ireland Protocol of Britain’s EU divorce agreement are addressed.
Following a lengthy stalemate, Britain and the EU resumed talks earlier this month on how to fix problems with the protocol, and Irish officials had been reporting encouraging signs before Sunak replaced Liz Truss as British leader on Monday.
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