Chris Heaton-Harris 'doesn't believe' Prime Minister Sunak overruled Assembly election call

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton Harris said he "doesn't believe" the Prime Minister overruled him on calling a Stormont election.

Mr Heaton Harris was asked by Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi during Northern Ireland question time about reports he had been ordered by Mr Sunak not to call an election.

The NI Secretary u-turned on a pledge to call a Stormont election immediately after the passing of a deadline to see the full restoration of power sharing following May's vote.

The secretary of state has 12 weeks to call an election from October 28 - although he is expected to change the law on that on Wednesday.

In the weeks leading up to this deadline, Mr Heaton-Harris indicated an election would be called imminently following the passing of the deadline.

However the he did not do so, and later gave a statement saying that he would "provide an update in due course".

He is expected to announce an extension of the legal deadline to call an election on Wednesday.

Mr Heaton-Harris was questioned in the House of Commons on Wednesday morning about whether he had been ordered to backtrack on his pledge.

Mr Singh Dhesi said: "The secretary of state told the Northern Ireland Committee that he would be calling an election on, and I quote, 'one minute past midnight on the 28th of October'.

"But this didn't happen and it has left Northern Ireland in limbo. Reports have since emerged that the Northern Ireland Secretary was directly overruled by the Prime Minister.

"Can he confirm if this is true, or did he mean to intentionally mislead a Parliamentary committee?"

Mr Heaton-Harris said in reply that: "I don't believe I was overruled by the Prime Minister."

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