PM Urges Devolved Leaders To Pull Together In Support Of Brexit Deal

Prime Minister Theresa May is urging leaders from the devolved administrations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to "pull together" and back her Brexit deal.

It comes as the Government has ramped up its preparations for a no-deal crash out of the European Union, after the meaningful vote on the deal was postponed to January next year.

The Prime Minister is set to call on the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales and representatives of the Northern Ireland Civil Service to listen to the calls of business leaders in their regions and back her Withdrawal Agreement.

She is expected to address the issue at a Downing Street meeting on Wednesday 19 December.

With a mere 100 days until the scheduled date of Brexit on 29 March 2019, the Prime Minister has geared up preparations for a no-deal, while Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that thousands of troops will be put on standby to help cope with potential disruption.

Around £2 billion of public money has already been spent on Brexit, with Chancellor Philip Hammond pledging a further £2bn, which will be handed out throughout 2019 and 2020, to mitigate the financial effects of leaving the European Union.

The Home Office is expected to receive one quarter of the sum, £480 million, to increase Border Force capability.
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Meanwhile, Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O'Neill has claimed that Theresa May's Government is heading for an economic catastrophe by focusing on a no-deal scenario, and reiterated her party's position that an Irish unity referendum will be pursued in the event of a hard Brexit.

The Mid Ulster MLA said: "That sums up their chaotic approach over the past two years. They have spent more time fighting among themselves and trying to placate the DUP and Brexiteers rather than dealing with the issues that actually need addressed.

"This reckless approach has made the prospect of a disastrous no-deal crash much more likely. Such a situation would be catastrophic for our economy and society. It would see us crashing out of the EU with no terms of departure, over an economic cliff-edge with supply shortages and many businesses unable to trade, job losses, possible recession, no access to the EU single market and a physical hard border being put in place in Ireland.

"We cannot allow that to happen and we will continue working with the Dublin Government and the EU27 to protect the Good Friday Agreement and protect the Backstop as our only insurance policy against a hard border and the economic catastrophe that would bring.

"But if that is not possible and Westminster insists on driving toward a no-deal crash, then a referendum on Irish reunification, as provided for in the Good Friday Agreement, must be called as the only sensible, logical and entirely rational response which would provide a pathway for the North to be readmitted to the European Union."


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