UK concedes reality of Northern Ireland deadlock, shifts election ‘deadline’ to 2024

BELFAST – The UK government conceded effective defeat on Thursday in its efforts to quickly coax Northern Ireland’s politicians into a new power-sharing government, dropping the date of the territory’s next assembly election to 2024 by a whole year .

Thursday’s concession to reality vigorous months capped but increasingly impossible statement from Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris, who had initially claimed His hands were tied after the collapse of the region’s cross-community government in October and a rapid-fire new election was inevitable.

The estimated deadline was extended in six-week increments following a series of legislative amendments. All these subtle moves are calibrated in some way or the other to persuade the Democratic Unionists to end Obstacle Government formed at Stormont.

But the DUP – publicly committed to sabotage Stormont unless its demands to change post-Brexit business rules are met – face a new Northern Ireland Assembly election in the face of the threat of a fast new Northern Ireland Assembly election from Heaton-Harris. Didn’t budge even an inch. Talks between the UK and the EU on improving the trade protocol to the Withdrawal Agreement for Northern Ireland appear poised for a breakthrough soon. but may fail to complete the proposed settlement Core DUP demandsStormont maintaining the impasse.

“After considering my options and having been widely involved in Northern Ireland, I know that an election in the coming weeks will not be helpful or welcome,” Heaton-Harris said in a statement released as she introduced the new amended law. introduced that would replace his current election. April 13 “deadline” 52 weeks.

Heaton-Harris said the move would “give the parties more time to work together and return to government.”

He said the revised rules, set to pass all Commons stages by February 22, would mean he would no longer be legally bound to set a new Northern Ireland Assembly election date until January 18, 2024. Under this new arithmetic, there would be no voting for another 12 weeks, until April 11, 2024, if the DUP did not relent by then.

If such an election ever takes place, it would effectively rerun the May 2022 vote to the Democratic Unionists narrowly lost to their Irish republican arch-rivals, Sinn Fein. Far from being afraid of such a vote, DUP leaders have told Politico They would love a second chance in the hope of regaining at least some of that lost ground.

Sinn Féin currently holds 27 seats. degenerate assemblyThe DUP has 25. The largest party is entitled to the top power-sharing position of first minister, a position that has long been held by the DUP and never held by Sinn Féin.

But some political number-crunchers, including those in the DUP ranks, see a clear path for the Democratic Unionists to regain their previous position as the largest assembly party. If the DUP achieved a tie in the number of seats, Sinn Féin would still retain the potential tie-breaker with a higher share of the popular vote.