BELFAST (Reuters) - Northern Ireland's political parties ended talks on Monday with no sign of a deal to restore devolved government, raising the prospect of London imposing a budget on the British province for the first time in a decade.
A budget set by the British government would be a major step towards direct rule from London, which observers have warned could destabilize a delicate political balance there.
Irish nationalists Sinn Fein said their talks with the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) had ended on Monday with no breakthrough. A British government spokesman said last week that if there was no deal by the end of Monday that London would move to pass an annual budget for the region to ensure essential services are funded.
A spokesman for the British government's Northern Ireland Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, however, and a Sinn Fein spokesman said he expected talks to continue on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Conor Humphries; Additional reporting Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Catherine Evans)