Northern Ireland firms warn of economic, social risks from no-deal Brexit

Northern Ireland firms warn of economic, social risks from no-deal Brexit

MPs rejected the prime minister's deal by 230 votes in January - the largest defeat for a sitting government in history.

The current deal took 18 months to negotiate between the EU and the United Kingdom and May has been seeking concessions from her European counterparts on the backstop issue to help get it through the Commons.

May has been trying to negotiate changes to her Brexit deal, especially the controversial backstop plan, which was drawn up to prevent the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.

"UK will not be forced into customs union against its will".

Ahead of a vote on Tuesday on the divorce agreement struck with the bloc a year ago, more than 50 businesses warned members of parliament in an open letter of the dangers of failing to unite behind a way forward that avoids a hard border and protects peace and economic progress in Northern Ireland.

Labour has said it would back a delay of a few months, during which it will try to persuade MPs to back its alternative plan for an EU-UK customs union after Brexit.

However, Northern Ireland would have to remain in the EU's trade orbit to prevent the need for any customs checks on the border with EU-member Ireland.

But Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay and the DUP, the party Mrs May's government relies on for a majority in Parliament, were both dismissive of the EU's latest proposal.

A Government source summed up the feeling in London by saying it was "not impressed".

May's deal will be put to the Parlimentary test again on Tuesday but the prospects of it passing do not appear to be high.

The upcoming Meaningful Vote will inevitably be defeated by a "sizeable" numbers of Conservative and DUP MPs, if the Withdrawal Agreement is presented to the Commons without any change to the backstop, Mr Dodds and Mr Baker said.

The Brexit effort "needs just one more push to address the final, specific concerns of our Parliament", she said in the northern English port of Grimsby, where 70 per cent voted to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum.

"With a very real deadline looming, now is not the time to rerun old arguments. In everything that followed there would be total uncertainty - that would be the only certainty", Hancock told Sky News.

"They've got to recognise her deal isn't going to work, it doesn't get support, and will not get through Parliament".

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