A power vacuum just as the U.K. begins talks on E.U. withdrawal could have serious consequences.

Northern Ireland is facing its worst political crisis in at least a decade, as a senior minister’s shock resignation looks set to dissolve the government, threatening the Good Friday power-sharing agreement that has helped keep peace for almost two decades.

Elections now look likely for the government, or Northern Ireland Assembly, after the resignation of deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of republican Sinn Fein, potentially creating a damaging leadership vacuum just as the U.K. prepares to leave the European Union.

McGuinness resigned in protest over a costly renewable energy subsidy scheme which has dogged the First Minister Arlene Foster of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Introduced while Foster was minister for enterprise, the scheme was intended to help businesses with the costs of using eco-friendly heating, but reportedly resulted in an overspending of up to 490 million pounds ($595 million).

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