The government is considering imposing direct rule in Northern Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Dominc Raab has admitted.
Boris Johnson’s Foreign Secretary said senior ministers were looking “very carefully” at whether legislation would be needed for the government to take direct control of the region.
It follows reports that officials have warned ministers that the region would struggle to cope without a functioning government if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
The executive at the Northern Ireland assembly collapsed in January 2017 and it is still unclear whether a resolution will be found by the Brexit deadline.
Mr Raab said the government would ensure there was “no vacuum” in the region in the event of no deal.
Asked if the government would have to impose direct rule, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’ll make sure that arrangements are in place so that there’s no vacuum, so there’s the efficient conduct of government, but the number one priority is to see the parties in Northern Ireland revive the executive and the assembly so they can take responsibility and control.
Adding: ”We’ll make sure – and there will of course need to be legislation considered across the no-deal scenario – that all the arrangements, whether they’re regulatory or administrative, are in place so that we don’t have a vacuum.“
Asked if legislation would be needed to enforce direct rule, he said: ”The question will be the extent to which it can be done, and that’s something I know Julian Smith [the Northern Ireland secretary] will be looking at very carefully, along with Michael Gove [the Cabinet Office minister].“