British government imposes budget on Northern Ireland
The British government on Monday imposed a budget on Northern Ireland after the main political parties in the regional Stormont assembly failed to reach a deal restoring power-sharing.
Northern Ireland has been without a regional administration since January, when the previous power-sharing agreement collapsed.
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire told the House of Commons local services would run out of money if a budget wasn’t passed, according the BBC. He said his budget “should not be a barrier to negotiations to continue, but the ongoing lack of agreement has had tangible consequences for people and public services in Northern Ireland.”
The new budget takes the region one step closer to direct rule from Westminster.
Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Féin’s leader in Northern Ireland, said on Monday that “this phase of the talks are over,” the Financial Times reported. However, Arlene Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party which props up Theresa May’s Conservative government in Westminster, said it was the right step to ensure “good governance” in the region.
The nationalist Social Democratic and Labour party said it was “utter madness” that the region was sliding back to direct rule from Westminster as this would diminish Remain-supporting Northern Ireland’s voice in Brexit negotiations, the Guardian reported.
The £10.6bn budget is expected to pass the House of Commons and House of Lords by Tuesday, the Financial Times reported, and the legislation will enter in force later this week.