Chris Heaton-Harris MP

After a midnight deadline to break months of gridlock passed, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said an election must be held within 12 weeks, although he did not give the exact date. 

“I have limited options ahead of me. I am under a legal duty to call an election within 12 weeks. I have had lots and lots of talks with all the parties and will continue to do so,” said Chris Heaton-Harris

It was widely anticipated that the date will be announced today but instead, Heaton-Harris said he needs more time and will reveal his plan next week. 

The DUP maintains they will only go back into government if significant changes are made to the Northern Ireland Protocol. It is unclear what another election will change when the DUP insists they will only return to the government when the Northern Ireland protocol is fixed. 

Sinn Fein has accused Chris Heaton-Harris of a bizarre U-turn.

As the tensions between the parties continue to build, their power to change the Northern Ireland Protocol does not lie at Stormont Assembly. It is, as it ever was, dependent on negotiations between the British government and the EU.

The DUP will go into election arguing they have support from voters for their position of staying out of government until their demands are met. While all this takes place, Northern Ireland is without government ministers.

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