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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.
Index of Frank's Diaries
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