The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has said he has no choice but to move forward with a Northern Ireland budget bill at Westminster next week.

James Brokenshire said the move was being taken in order to avoid Northern Ireland running out of money, which could happen otherwise.

He said it would codify what the civil service has been doing in Northern Ireland since the collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

He said while it was regrettable that he had to make such a move, this was not a return to direct rule.

Mr Brokenshire made the comments at a meeting of the British-Irish Council in Jersey today.

No Northern Irish politicians attended today's event because of the collapse of power sharing at Stormont.

Mr Brokenshire called this regrettable and said that while a gap remains between Sinn Féin and the DUP, he believes with will and determination Stormont can get up and running again.

He said the settlement of issues relating to the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland is one of the most challenging and most difficult issues that the UK faces.

James Brokenshire said that pragmatism works both ways and that the UK is keen to get into the debate about practical solutions on the issues which Brexit presents.

Mr Brokenshire said the British government had put forward practical ideas around the issues which needed open mindedness and pragmatism. 

He said there are unique challenges in relation to the border, but the UK is determined to achieve a positive outcome from the Brexit talks.

Theresa May calls leaders of DUP and Sinn Féin 

Meanwhile, the British Prime Minister Theresa May spoke on the phone with the DUP and Sinn Féin about the situation.

A spokeswoman for Mrs May said she expressed her concern that despite recent progress, agreement had not yet been reached and she urged both parties to bridge the gaps on the outstanding issues that remained.

Mrs May explained how the UK government will reluctantly be taking forward legislation for a budget bill on Monday, to ensure that in the absence of a Northern Ireland Executive, public services in Northern Ireland have the resources they need to operate.

"The prime minister made clear this was absolutely not an indication of direct rule but it was necessary to enable the Northern Ireland Civil Service to allocate funds for key public services while talks between the parties continued," said the spokeswoman.

"There was agreement on the importance of devolved government being returned to Northern Ireland for the benefit of all communities and the prime minister said that the UK government would continue to work, alongside the Irish Government, with the parties in reaching a successful outcome," she added.