1. ITV Report

General Election announcement has 'huge implications' for NI

UTV’s Political Editor Ken Reid has said Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement of her intention to hold a General Election will have "huge implications" for Northern Ireland.

“Everybody was surprised, it has caught most people on the hop,” he said.

“Just after 10am, there was announcement that there would be an important press conference at Downing Street at 11.15am where the Prime Minister would make a statement.

“Much of the speculation was about an election and that is on the back of opinion polls in the past few weeks which showed the gap between the Conservatives and Labour really reaching record proportions.

“But up to this, Theresa May has ruled out an election, she thought that it wasn't needed - but obviously the pressure from her own ranks has added up.”

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Ken continued: “I have to say, it was one of those moments when she walked out into Downing Street and said straight away there would be a General Election on 8 June.

“It has huge implications for Northern Ireland for this reason - we are in the middle of the delicate Stormont negotiations.

“The parties are now going to have to fight an election campaign and you know election campaigns are never easy, people take hard positions so I think really it would make the chances of an agreement at Stormont much more difficult.

“The parties are due to start negotiating again next Monday but it’s not going to be easy.

“At some stage the secretary of state could call another Assembly election, but I still have my doubts about that.

“I think what’s more likely is, not direct rule from Westminster, but vital legislation being pushed through, probably starting with the rates bill this week.

“I don’t think there’ll be any rush to put Westminster ministers into Northern Ireland but having said that, after what's happened this morning, how do you predict things?”

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