Britain's PM Johnson chairs weekly cabinet meeting, in London

Northern Ireland elections won’t be held early – minister

BELFAST (Reuters) – Northern Ireland will hold elections to its devolved assembly on schedule on May 5 and the resignation last week of First Minister Paul Givan does not change that, the British minister for the region said on Tuesday.

Givan’s resignation, in protest at post-Brexit trade rules, had sparked calls by the region’s two largest political parties for an earlier vote.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said new legislation passed in the British parliament meant the regional assembly could continue to function despite Givan’s resignation.

“The assembly under the new rules can continue to function, it’s right we allow MLAs [Members of the Legislative Assembly] time and space to pass legislation,” Lewis said.

Opinion polls suggest Sinn Fein may pass the Democratic Unionist Party to become Northern Ireland’s largest party for the first time.

(Reporting by Ian Graham and Conor Humphries; editing by William James)