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Ministers reject claims of impending UK break-up after N Ireland polls

British ministers have rejected claims that Sinn Féin’s election victory in Northern Ireland heralds the break-up of the UK, despite the nationalist occasion’s push for a referendum on a united Ireland inside 5 years.

Brandon Lewis, Britain’s Northern Ireland secretary, on Monday begins the painstaking strategy of attempting to coax pro-UK unionists to affix the area’s authorities, which now has a pro-Irish unity occasion claiming the function of first minister for the primary time.

Lewis is threatening to unilaterally rip up post-Brexit buying and selling preparations for Northern Ireland which are hated by unionists, in an try to carry the Democratic Unionist occasion — which completed second in Thursday’s elections behind Sinn Féin — into the area’s power-sharing govt.

But British ministers had been adamant that Sinn Féin’s emergence as the most important occasion at Stormont didn’t make it inevitable {that a} referendum might quickly be held on whether or not to switch rule over Northern Ireland from London to Dublin.

“Sinn Féin haven’t gained seats,” Lewis instructed the BBC, noting that the 27 seats received by the occasion — lengthy related to the paramilitary Irish Republican Army — was precisely the identical quantity because it secured in 2017, within the final spherical of elections.

He added: “We haven’t seen a growth in the nationalist vote and indeed the unionist vote is still larger and the number of seats held by unionist parties is still larger.”

Dominic Raab, the UK’s deputy prime minister, was requested whether or not the nation was heading in direction of break-up, with nationalist events now in command of devolved governments in each Northern Ireland and Scotland. “I don’t think so,” he stated.

Referring to the Northern Ireland elections, he added: “What I’ve noted is that 58 per cent of those voting in these elections voted for either those that support the union or don’t want to see constitutional change.”

British ministers have drawn some consolation from the rise of the centrist Alliance occasion, which identifies as neither nationalist nor unionist. It received 17 seats, in contrast with the DUP’s 25.

Mary Lou McDonald, president of Sinn Féin, stated after the Northern Ireland elections that she believed a referendum on a united Ireland — a ballot to be held on either side of the border — “would be possible within a five-year timeframe”.

The Northern Ireland Act of 1998 requires the British authorities to permit a border ballot “if at any time it appears likely” {that a} majority would specific a want for the area to go away the UK and type a part of a united Ireland.

British ministers insist they wish to negotiate adjustments with the EU to the so-called Northern Ireland protocol that covers the area’s post-Brexit buying and selling preparations, however they are saying time is working out.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson is drawing up laws enabling Britain to unilaterally rip up components of the protocol, which types a part of his Brexit take care of the EU.

A chart showing seats declared in the Northern Ireland Assembly election showing that Sinn Féin edges out DUP to become Northern Ireland's biggest political force with 27 seats compared with 25 respectively

The DUP is refusing to affix the Northern Ireland govt except the protocol is scrapped, which might imply the devolved authorities being unable to function successfully and end in months of political limbo, after which doubtlessly a contemporary spherical of elections.

Lewis and Liz Truss, UK overseas secretary, declare the EU is being intransigent over the protocol, with Emmanuel Macron, French president, regarded in London as being the largest impediment to a compromise.

But Maros Šefčovič, the European Commission vice-president and lead negotiator on Brexit and the Northern Ireland protocol, stated on Sunday that Brussels had already proven “a lot of flexibility by proposing impactful, durable solutions and we stand ready to continue discussions”.

He known as on the UK to “dial down the rhetoric, be honest about the deal they signed and agree to find solutions within its framework”.

The US urged the UK and the EU to achieve a compromise on the Northern Ireland protocol, saying Washington’s precedence was defending “the gains” of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that ended three many years of armed battle within the area.

The US state division stated: “We recognise that there have been challenges over the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol and that talks between the UK and EU to resolve these continue . . . 

“We urge the parties to continue engaging in dialogue to resolve differences and bring negotiations to a successful conclusion.”


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