Theresa May’s government is due to set out their plans for the Irish border today ahead of MPs being given a free vote on rejecting leaving the European Union without a deal this evening.
The plans for a No Deal Brexit will now be announced this morning after the Tory cabinet’s attempt to get the Brexit deal through Parliament was again heavily defeated last night.
The pound weakened against the euro as word filtered through that the 11th hour talks between May and EU officials to secure fresh assurances regarding the backstop failed to convince MPs, who last night voted by a margin of 149 votes to reject May’s deal again.
Theresa May said she profoundly regretted the decision and said leaving in an orderly fashion was the best way forward. “This is an issue of grave importance for the future of our country,” a hoarse Prime Minister told MPs following the defeat, adding that the government would today publish information on essential policies to be implemented if the UK leaves without a deal.
“These will cover our approach to tariffs and the Northern Ireland border among other matters.”
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood has said that his party is extremely disappointed that MPs have voted down May’s deal, “thus rejecting once more the Backstop”.
The MLA for Foyle commented: “Sooner or later, the British Parliament is going to have to support a Backstop for Northern Ireland or else support no Brexit at all; there is no happy medium between these two eventualities.
“The bottom line is that the Backstop, aside from scrapping Brexit entirely, is our only insurance policy against a hard border.
“Until MPs accept this reality, Article 50 should be extended to avoid us crashing out of the EU without a deal.”
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald meanwhile said: “The British Parliament voted by a landslide to reject the Withdrawal Agreement and Theresa May’s latest proposals.
“The scenes tonight show the absolute disregard for the people of Ireland, for our rights, our economy and the Good Friday Agreement that is at the heart of the Tory Brexit agenda.
“Sinn Féin and the majority of parties across this island, know there is no good or sensible Brexit.
“The Withdrawal Agreement is imperfect but it is the only deal on offer.
“The ‘backstop’ contained is a guarantee that no hard border will be imposed on this island and protects the Good Friday Agreement.
“We are seventeen days away from Brexit and the uncertainty and confusion continues.
“A crash out Brexit would be unthinkable for the peace process, jobs, trade and to the loss of people’s rights and quality of life, particularly in border communities.
“Despite giving assurances to Theresa May the EU has made clear that the Withdrawal Agreement is not going to be reopened for negotiation.
“There is now a need to intensify planning for a no-deal crash with an imperative to ensure no return to a hard border, protections of our agreements and safeguarding the rights of citizens.”