Over the last few weeks, Northern Ireland has been the central focus in the Brexit negotiations. The complexities surrounding the Northern Ireland question, has resulted in a split in the Conservative Party, which has been further highlighted by rumours of resignation by both key Conservative remainers and Brexiteers.
Ruth Davidson, Leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, and David Mundell MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, has suggested that if there is a renewed barrier between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, they would tender their resignations as a result.
This message is clearly not intended for the mainstream electorate, but rather to the party faithful, which amounts to being told to get on board or be responsible for the destruction of the Conservative Party in Scotland.
Ruth Davidson is a perceptive politician and knows only too well, the implications of a renewed Border between Northern Ireland and the mainland UK and what that means for Scotland. Clearly, this is a stark warning to those who are playing high stakes political poker with the future of the UK.
Similarly, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has said that if Northern Ireland is treated differently to the mainland UK, they would withdraw their support for the government, which would weaken Theresa May’s majority and almost certainly result in a vote of no confidence. The DUP have been consistent in their views and is unlikely to move from this position, although its rumoured that the DUP is preparing for a no Brexit deal.
To many, the prospect of a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would undermine the Good Friday Agreement, and it’s worth noting that in the divorce agreement reached between the EU and the UK Britain promised that “no new regulatory barriers” would emerge between the mainland and Northern Ireland.”
There is no denying that Theresa May is between a rock and a hard place, some may even go as far as to say dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t, but if a constitutional change was easy, it would have happened long before now.
There has been a lot of speculation about the future of Theresa May as prime minister and leader of the Conservative Party, with numerous media reports suggesting that forty-four Conservative Party MP’s have submitted letters of no confidence to the 1922 Committee, with four more needed, to enable a leadership challenge.
Whilst it is fair to say that Ms May is in a vulnerable position, she still holds the political ace card and as prime minister could at any minute call a general election, and this is a real possibility.
Not only would this suppress the prospect of any leadership challenge, but it would be a game changer that could see Ms May incorporate a renewed deal on the European Union as a key manifesto pledge, perhaps a favoured customs union, which could be enough to swing a sizeable section of the electorate that believes this would be the best Brexit deal for Britain, and in turn increase her majority.