THE FIRST Minister of Northern Ireland is to tender his resignation, possibly as early as today, it is understood.
Paul Givan’s resignation would automattically remove Sinn Fein deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill from office also, while other ministers could still remain in place.
It would throw Northern Ireland back into a state of limbo with the Executive unable to make significant decisions.
It is understood senior DUP officials will meet later today to confirm the timing of Mr Givan’s resignation.
The shock announcement comes following the order from agriculture minister Edwin Poots last night to stop all checks on goods coming from Great Britain into Northern Ireland, breaking the Brexit protocol.
The European Commission has said the decision by the DUP’s Mr Poots to halt agri-food checks at ports creates “further uncertainty and unpredictability”.
It comes as the status of Brexit checks at ports remained unclear on Thursday morning after a deadline passed for a ministerial order to halt them.
Mr Poots issued the unilateral direction on Wednesday evening, instructing officials to stop the agri-food checks at midnight.
However, there has been no confirmation from Stormont officials whether they intend to comply with the order.
DUP rivals at Stormont insist Mr Poots’ direction is unlawful and civil servants are obliged to follow the law at all times.