What now seems a likelihood, the defeat of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement could lead to a United Ireland, Scottish independence and the break-up of the United Kingdom.
The British Prime Minister Theresa May has made a last-ditch attempt to win support for the Withdrawal Agreement, she and her team negotiated with Europe, by suggesting that a no-deal Brexit would make a united Ireland, Scottish independence and the break-up of the United Kingdom more likely. The vote will go before the House of Commons on Tuesday night.
May said “To those who think we should reject this deal in favor of no deal because we cannot get every assurance we want, I ask what would a no-deal Brexit do to strengthen the hand of those campaigning for Scottish independence - or indeed those demanding a border poll in Northern Ireland? Surely this is the real threat to our union.”
As May battles for a yes vote on Brexit her position as leader of the British government lays on the line as the Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, prepares to table a no-confidence motion in the government.
So far, the Labour Party, Tory Brexiters and the partner in government the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and said they will not support May’s proposed deal. It is predicted that May’s Withdrawal Agreement will be voted down.
This week there was an exchange of letters between the United Kingdom and the European Union offering more reassurances that the Northern Ireland backstop would be temporary. The backstop is designed to prevent a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, in Northern Ireland. This would mean keeping Northern Ireland in the EU customs union and parts of the single market.
The mechanism which has been a continued sticking point in the Brexit negotiations would remain in place until a resolution can be found.
The DUP, based out of Belfast, have made clear they are firmly against the backstop and Northern Ireland being treated separately to the United Kingdom. They have also said the EU’s letters of assurance are not legally binding.
On Tuesday, the leader of the DUP, Arlene Foster, spoke at a Brexiteer event in London. She accused May of not trying to get rid of the Northern Ireland backstop.
Foster said she felt she was having déjà vu returning to London to argue against the Withdrawal Agreement, as she did so in December before the Meaningful Vote was pulled.
She said "We said to the Prime Minister she had to get rid of the backstop and get a Withdrawal Agreement that can be lived with.
"I don't think she even asked to get rid of the backstop."
On Tuesday evening one hundred Conservative Members of Parliament are expected to join in opposition to vote against the Withdrawal Agreement.
British Environment secretary Michael Gove, who supports the Withdrawal Agreement, refused to say if he expects it to pass.
He said “The real danger is if people do not vote for the government this evening, we face either a no-deal Brexit, with the short-term economic damage that would bring, or worse: no Brexit at all.
"We know there are people in the House of Commons and outside who have never made their peace with this decision, who want to overturn it."
There is a total of 14 amendments to the motion before the final ballot on the overall motion expected late on Tuesday night. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader, has already said a no-confidence motion will be put forward in British Parliament “within minutes” of the Withdrawal Agreement’s failure.
Irish government prepares for no-deal Brexit
In Ireland, on Tuesday the Irish cabinet met to discuss plans for the country in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The Irish government is considering an omnibus bill which will bring all the legislation needed to Parliament in one go.
Their discussions included how to avoid a shortage of medicines if the United Kingdom crashes out of Europe and how to limit the impact of the no-deal Brexit on transport. Ireland’s opposition political parties have said that more plans are needed to make the country post-Brexit ready.
Fianna Fáil's Finance Spokesman Michael McGrath said:
"If as all the indications point to a heavy defeat for Theresa May in today's vote then the preparations for all scenarios, including a No-Deal Brexit will have to be stepped up."
The party’s spokesperson for Brexit, Lisa Chambers said it is still not clear what will happen if the Withdrawal Agreement is lost.
“Amidst all the chaos we here in Ireland are still moving quite dangerously close to the cliff edge, not of our own making, but still a very difficult and precarious position for us to be in,” Chambers said.
"We know what's going to happen today, I think the vote will be defeated, but after that, what is the next step that the British prime minister will take and where does the deal lie at that point?
"What is going to happen on March 29."
Sinn Féin’s leader Mary Lou McDonald said some Brexiteers are using the situation for political gain.
"There are many in Britain in the British political establishment who have played a game of chicken with Ireland and with Irish interests.
"That is a disreputable way to carry out your politics, to say the very least."