Brokenshire warns of snap election it talks fail

In a letter to MPs he explained the repercussions of talks failing

Brokenshire warns of snap election it talks fail

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire departs BBC Broadcasting House in London, 15-Jan-2017. Image: Jonathan Brady PA Wire/PA Images

Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire has said that a second election would be on the cards if talks fail between the political parties in the North.

In a letter sent to all MPs, James Brokenshire set out the consequences of the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein failing to strike a deal which would include disruption and uncertainty for businesses and the public in general.

The parties are currently in deadlock discussing their options after Sinn Fein dramatically narrowed the gap on its powersharing partners the DUP to just one seat. 

In his letter Mr Brokenshire said "If no agreement is reached in the short window following the election, there would be a number of significant consequences.

"There would be no Executive, no real budget, no Programme for Government and risks to public services. Ultimately we would also be facing a second election with ongoing disruption and uncertainty for businesses and the people of Northern Ireland that would bring."

Despite this warning he said he was "not contemplating any other outcome but a resumption of devolved government as soon as possible".

The two main political parties in Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein and the DUP have just three weeks to reach a deal.

If no power-sharing government is formed, power could return to the UK Parliament at Westminster for the first time in a decade.

Mr Brokenshire and The Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan have been meeting with parties in a bid to help resolve the crisis as quickly as possible.