Belfast Telegraph

PM must introduce direct rule in Northern Ireland if no Brexit deal agreed – UUP

Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann made the call as he arrived at Stormont House to meet Theresa May.

UUP leader Robin Swann, left, and party colleagues John Stewart and Doug Beattie arrive at Stormont for talks with Theresa May (Brian Lawless/PA)
UUP leader Robin Swann, left, and party colleagues John Stewart and Doug Beattie arrive at Stormont for talks with Theresa May (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Prime Minister must introduce direct rule government for Northern Ireland if no Brexit deal can be agreed, the Ulster Unionist Party has said.

UUP leader Robin Swann made the call as he arrived to meet Theresa May at Stormont House on Wednesday morning.

The Prime Minister is meeting all the major political parties in Northern Ireland on the second day of her visit to the region.

With just 50 days to go until the UK’s scheduled exit date from the European Union, Mr Swann said if Mrs May cannot negotiate an extension and no deal is reached, then she must introduce direct rule for Northern Ireland.

Powersharing government in Northern Ireland collapsed in January 2017 following a breakdown in relations between the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein.

She has to put direct rule in place come March 30 because Northern Ireland needs political leadership and it needs political direction Robin Swann, Ulster Unionist Party leader

Numerous attempts to revive it have so far been unsuccessful.

The UK Government has so far appeared reluctant to introduce direct rule for Northern Ireland.

“We are not far from March 29, we as a party don’t see a no deal as a positive situation or something that suits Northern Ireland or the UK,” Mr Swann said.

“We have asked her to look for an extension of Article 50. If she is not prepared to do that, and we are at a situation where the executive and the Assembly isn’t up and running again, she has to put something in place.

“She has to put direct rule in place come March 30 because Northern Ireland needs political leadership and it needs political direction.

“So by March 29, if we are coming out with no deal with no executive, we need direct rule for Northern Ireland. The manufacturing industry needs direction, our agri-food industry needs direction, we need some sort of political leadership in Northern Ireland.

“If the place behind me isn’t fit to deliver that, then it has to be direct rule ministers.”

Alliance leader Naomi Long said the subject of devolution in Northern Ireland was touched on during her meeting with Mrs May.

She said she would like to see Secretary of State Karen Bradley working to restore devolution.

“We made it very clear that while it was lovely to see the Secretary of State today with the Prime Minister, we would like to see her more frequently here dealing with the chaos in this building which has added to the difficulties we have had around Brexit and certainly isn’t helping how people view politics as a problem-solving mechanism outside this building,” Mrs Long said.

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