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Brexit chaos will make an orderly withdrawal less likely

The British government's approach to Brexit is becoming more chaotic by the day with Theresa May's political weakness horribly exposed by a series of knife edge votes in the Commons.

Having witnessed a steady stream of resignations since she unveiled her Chequers plan, Mrs May was forced to cave in to demands from Brexiteers on a number of amendments to her white paper.

Her capitulation to the hard Brexit MPs only served to stir a rebellion amongst dismayed Remainers, leading to a government win by just three votes on Monday night.

Mrs May avoided defeat but her authority is once again under question as it now appears the hardliners have the upper hand in her party in what is becoming an increasingly vicious civil war.

There are now concerns that the amendments could undermine the terms of the backstop position which was agreed last December and which said that Northern Ireland would remain subject to an EU customs regime in the absence of a wider agreement.

The Irish department of foreign affairs said it is 'fully accepted' that there can be no withdrawal agreement without a legally operable backstop ensuring there is no hard border on the island of Ireland after the UK leaves the EU.

And while the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar sought to downplay Monday's developments saying there is no cause for panic about the backstop, he nevertheless pointed out it cannot be assumed the withdrawal agreement will get through Westminster.

He also said the Irish government needed to step up its preparations for a no-deal scenario, although he thought that outcome is unlikely.

Right now, few would confidently predict precisely what sort of Brexit is likely to emerge from the chaos of Westminster with an embattled prime minister even contemplating an early recess to avoid further turmoil.

The fear is that the emboldened Brexiteers will make it difficult to deliver an orderly and sensible withdrawal, and that is an alarming prospect for people on this island.

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