May says hard Brexit could lead to united Ireland, break up of Britain

January 16, 2019
Anti-Brexit protest in Belfast.

Britain’s departure from the European Union without a deal would make a united Ireland and the break-up of Britain more likely, British Prime Minister Theresa May told MPs ahead of a January 15 vote on her government’s Withdrawal Agreement that it has negotiated with the European Union. May dramatically lost the vote by 432-202.

It is the first time May has admitted British rule in Ireland and Scotland could be jeopardised by Brexit.

Speaking at Westminster, she said: “To those who think we should reject this deal in favour 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.”

Karen Bradley, Britain’s Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, who acts as the direct ruler for the six counties in northern Ireland still ruled by Britain, also warned the Tory cabinet that she could be forced to call a border poll on Irish unity if there is no deal for Brexit.

Deputy leader Nigel Dodds of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which strongly opposes Irish unity and on whose votes Mya’s government depends, described May’s comments as “foolish talk”. Dodds suggested it was “scaremongering” in order to shore up support for the deal, which the DUP opposes.

Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald today described the DUP position on Brexit as “reckless and irresponsible”.

“It certainly is not in the interests of the people of the north of Ireland,” she said. “I would urge all political leaders to act in the interests of workers, of communities, of society and political stability.

“The basic protections agreed for Ireland are not to be reopened or renegotiated and neither the people of Ireland or our agreements can become collateral damage in a disastrous Brexit.”

[Abridged from Irish Republican News.]

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