Belfast Telegraph

British government warned that no-deal Brexit will mean direct rule for Northern Ireland- reports

Stormont has not functioned since January 2017.
Stormont has not functioned since January 2017.

The British Government will have to introduce legislation imposing direct rule in Northern Ireland if the UK leaves the EU without a Brexit deal, it has been warned.

The move, which would effectively suspend the Good Friday Agreement, is currently "under discussion" according to the Daily Telegraph.

Without the imposition of direct rule, which would see Northern Ireland governed by Westminster, the province would become ungoverned with the devolved government being collapsed since January 2017.

The return of direct rule would be a highly politically toxic move which would pit Boris Johnson's administration with the Irish government and would see the biggest political crisis in Northern Ireland since the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Irish officials have warned the British Government that direct rule would anger the nationalist community and fuel calls for a border poll on the reunification of Ireland.

New Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg addresses MPs from the despatch box (PA)

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the new leader of the House of Commons, confirmed the issue was under discussion.

"That is not necessarily correct that legislation is needed to impose direct rule. I had a meeting on that earlier and that is not necessarily correct but that is not a definitive answer,” he said.

“This is speculation and I think it is unlikely to be necessary but I am not giving a guarantee that it is not necessary."

However, it is understood with no active government in Stormont the British government will have no choice but to table legislation, or risk Northern Ireland spiralling out of control in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to Daily Telegraph.

Northern Ireland's newly appointed Secretary of State Julian Smith pledged to "push as hard as I possibly can" to make progress in the talks to revive Stormont.

Northern Ireland’s new Secretary of State Julian Smith speaks to media in Londonderry (Rebecca Black/PA)

The Stormont Assembly has been collapsed for two-and-a-half years following a breakdown in relations between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

Numerous attempts to agree its return have been unsuccessful.

Mr Smith met Northern Ireland's parties at Stormont House in Belfast on Friday morning before spending the afternoon in Londonderry.

He said there had been "good discussions", but added he has asked to meet the parties again on Monday and Tuesday "to ensure we move forward at pace" with the talks to restore the collapsed devolved government.

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