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Theresa May rules out border poll on Irish unity

Prime Minister Theresa May has said it is not the right time for a border poll on Irish reunification.

Mrs May said Stormont parties should instead be focused on reforming the Executive after the collapse of power-sharing.

DUP MP Nigel Dodds accused Sinn Fein of causing further "uncertainty and division" with its fresh calls for a border poll.

Addressing the PM, he said: "Would she take this opportunity to tell people that there's never been more support for the union in Northern Ireland across all communities, and that, in fact, such a call is outside the terms of the Belfast Agreement - the very point that Sinn Fein keep harping on about, that they want the implementation of the agreements."

Mrs May told MPs: "There are a set of circumstances which the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has looked at this issue, and it is not right to have a border poll at this stage. What we should all be focusing on is bringing the parties together to ensure that we can continue to see the devolved administration in Northern Ireland working, as it has done, in the interests of the people of Northern Ireland.

"We want to see that devolved administration being formed and that's what all the parties should be looking for at the moment."

Sinn Fein has said there is an urgent need for a referendum on Irish unity as the British Government has "refused to listen" to the majority of people in Northern Ireland over Brexit.

Meanwhile, North Down MP Lady Sylvia Hermon urged Mrs May to personally intervene in Northern Ireland. "I wonder, and I'm sure the country wonders and particularly those in Northern Ireland, what steps the Prime Minister is going to take, including visiting Northern Ireland, to turn back the tide of support for Sinn Fein?" she said.

Mrs May said the focus in the coming weeks must be on bringing the parties together to form a new devolved administration.

She added: "We have been very clear about the relationship that we want to ensure in relation to the border with the Republic of Ireland, and we continue to work with the Republic of Ireland and others on delivering on that."

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