Belfast Telegraph

'Profound' consequences if Stormont is not restored, says Secretary of State

Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

There would be 'profound' consequences if Stormont was not restored, the Secretary of State has said.

Julian Smith faced questions in the Commons about efforts to reinstate Stormont as efforts to stop changes to abortion laws failed on Monday.

Same-sex marriage will become legal and abortion will be decriminalised at midnight in line with a law passed by MPs at Westminster in July.

Mr Smith said he was "disappointed" no agreement was reached to get Stormont back up and running.

The Northern Ireland secretary announced an assembly election has been pushed back until January at the earliest.

It comes as the legal date for an assembly election to be called if the power-sharing Executive was not formed approaches on Monday.

It's now been pushed back to January 13 - but Mr Smith said the extension will have "no bearing" on his efforts to restore the executive.

There was a clash between the Secretary of State and DUP MPs in the House of Commons on the government's proposed Brexit deal.

DUP MPs asked for clarification on whether Northern Ireland goods travelling to other parts of the UK will require customs declarations.

Belfast East's Gavin Robinson asked: "Can he [Julian Smith] answer that question that was asked earlier, is it the case that Northern Ireland goods will require customs declarations to enter what is supposed to be unfettered access to the rest of their own country?"

To heckles of "answer it" from fellow DUP MPs, Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith said: "On the issue of checks and forms, unfettered access is a key part of this protocol, and I'll be working to ensure we deliver on that in the interest of Northern Ireland business in the coming weeks."

Calling for Stormont MLAs to have their pay reduced again due to the deadlock, Lady Sylvia Hermon said: "As members of the legislative assembly at Stormont continue to be unable to fulfil their responsibilities, what consideration has the Secretary of State given to cutting their salaries yet again?"

Mr Smith continued: "I plan to review all elements relating to the Assembly if we're unable to move things forwards over the coming days."

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