Brexit deal defeat sparks fresh hard border fear

Prime Minister Theresa May listens to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaking after losing a vote on her Brexit deal in the House of Commons. Picture by /PA Wire

THE future of the frictionless border was in fresh doubt last night as Theresa May’s deal, which included a guarantee against a hard frontier, was defeated by a huge majority.

The Brexit withdrawal agreement, which had been agreed by the other EU 27 countries and included a backstop on the border, was felled by a massive 230 vote margin.

European Council President, Donald Tusk said the result increased the risk of a “disorderly withdrawal” of the UK from the EU.

Mrs May will face a a no-confidence motion today but is expected to survive with rebel Conservatives and the DUP expected to support the government.

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The Tory leader will then return to parliament on Monday with a new offer having consulted with European leaders.

However, it was being reported last night that the EU was ruling out a special summit or the reopening of the withdrawal agreement.

A statement from the Dublin government said the result increased the risk of a no deal exit.

"Regrettably, the outcome of tonight's vote increases the risk of a disorderly Brexit," the statement said.

"Consequently, the government will continue to intensify preparations for such an outcome.

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Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, called on the taoiseach to “stand firm.”

"We need to say clearly to the British that if they wish to Brexit then that’s a matter for themselves but any Brexit agreement needs to recognise, understand and protect the people, the economy and the peace process on this island," she said.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said her party would work with the government to find a better deal.

"Reassurances whether in the form of letters or warm words, will not be enough – the prime minister must now go back to the European Union and seek fundamental change to the Withdrawal Agreement.

The former first minister said her party wanted an "orderly exit" from the EU.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said there can be no deal without a backstop

"The naive belief in Westminster that a better deal can be negotiated with Brussels is merely postponing the inevitable," he said.

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