Sinn Féin MEP, Martina Anderson, has today called for an Irish unity poll to allow the people of Ireland escape Britain's 'no deal' Brexit train.
The Derry Sinn Féin representative issued the call in Strasbourg this morning after the EU/UK negotiated Withdrawal Agreement was rejected in the British House of Commons on Tuesday for the second time.
Gabriele Zimmer, who heads the European United Left/Nordic Green Left bloc on which Sinn Féin MEPs sit, agreed and said that Irish unity now afforded the simplest solution to the Brexit impasse as the clock ticked down to March 29, or what she dubbed 'Mad Friday'.
Mrs. Anderson said: "The British Prime Minister [Theresa May] herself believes that Brexit is increasing support for Irish unity.
"The European Council said in April 2017 that if Ireland is reunited then the whole island would remain as part of the EU. I remind the Council and the Commission that the EU said that we need to prepare for a 'no deal', for a crash.
"Who in their right mind would sit on a train that is going over a cliff or is being dangerously delayed or derailed. So the people want off that train, and the only way off it is Irish unity.
"My appeal to you is that you advocate for the holding of a referendum on Irish unity. It is legitimate. It is democratic. It is in the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) if you are going to uphold it in all its parts then uphold that part too."
Ms. Zimmer said: "There's actually a very simple solution to this whole backstop problem and that is that there be no border on the island of Ireland, that there be no controls.
"Irish unity would be the single most simple solution. The UK wouldn't have a problem, the Irish wouldn't have a problem, and Brexiteers wouldn't have a problem either. That would be a solution. It would be the solution.
"The British government today has explained that there will be no controls between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and perhaps a smaller Great Britain is more important than the interests of certain political parties and that is something we should take at their word when they say that."
These comments provoked an angry reaction from the Ulster Unionist Party MEP Jim Nicholson, who said: "You will not annex Northern Ireland. Irish unity is not at stake here. Even nationalist parties do not want a referendum on the border. They accept the GFA put that all to bed."
The calls for Irish unity followed the rejection of the Withdrawal Agreement in the British House of Commons on Tuesday, following which Mrs. May remarked: "Polling shows that support for both Scottish independence and a united Ireland would be higher if we left without a deal, while, in the absence of institutions in Northern Ireland, a no deal would create a substantial problem of governance there."
Notwithstanding Mr. Nicholson's comments this morning the GFA and the Northern Ireland Act 1998, which made it UK law, stipulate that, if majority support for a united Ireland appeared likely, a border poll must be called by a sitting Secretary of State for the North.