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By Delaying Northern Ireland's Election, the U.K. Buys More Time to Settle Its Trade Disputes With the EU

MIN READNov 10, 2022 | 18:33 GMT

Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill holds a press conference outside the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast on Nov. 9, 2022, after the United Kingdom announced an extended deadline for Northern Ireland's main parties to form a government before a new election is triggered.

Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill holds a press conference outside the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast on Nov. 9, 2022, after the United Kingdom announced an extended deadline for Northern Ireland's main parties to form a government before a new election is triggered.

(Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

The U.K. government's decision to delay a regional election in Northern Ireland to March or April gives London more time to reach a compromise with Brussels on reforming the Northern Ireland protocol, but significant obstacles remain and a trade war is still possible. On Nov. 9, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris announced an extension of the deadline for political parties in Northern Ireland to form a government to Dec. 8, with the possibility of a further extension by another six weeks. Northern Ireland's main republican party, Sinn Fein, and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) failed to form a government by the original Oct. 28 deadline to avoid an early election, which would have triggered a vote by mid-January. Heaton-Harris' decision to change the deadline means that the earliest date for an early election is now March or, if there is a second extension, April. Northern Ireland held a legislative election...

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