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Crunch time will come if the Irish Government threatens to vote against any Brexit deal which does otherwise. If that becomes critical to the UK achieving a deal it actually wants, the only way May could resolve this conundrum is by accepting that N. I. will remain within the customs Union, lose DUP support, and call a general election to win a mandate for the deal.
I consider this a likely scenario because I can't see the current UK parliament agreeing to any Brexit deal May is likely to be able to negotiate. Brexit hard-liners will vote against any compromises on the basis that "No deal is better than a bad deal", and the Opposition and a few Tories will vote against a hard brexit deal as clearly inferior to full membership of customs Union and Single market.
So May is going to have to call a general election on the outcome of the negotiations in any case, and has to decide what kind of deal she is prepared to go to the country and campaign on.
I doubt that N. I. remaining within the CU will be a deal breaker for her in that context. The question I have is whether May would be prepared to campaign for any Brexit deal the EU is likely to offer.
In that context, May going to the country and campaigning for a no deal Brexit remains a possibility, although I think she would lose that election. If so, Labour will lead the next Government, and keep all of the UK within the CU and obviate the entire Irish border problem.
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