Merkel enters Brexit fray, as European Union seeks shield from United Kingdom turmoil

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media captionPM's Brexit deal'would damage the union

Hancock says lawmakers should support the prime minister's agreement because "the best way through this impasse is the one deal that's been negotiated with the European Union".

The Great British pound came under renewed pressure at the end of last month, starting out April on the back foot following PM May's withdrawal agreement being voted against again and as markets struggle to project a way forward for Brexit at this juncture as the United Kingdom heads towards a disorderly Brexit on 12th April.

She also accused the DUP of being "seduced" by Westminster.

"Our economy, the rights of citizens and our hard-won agreements can not be collateral damage to Westminster".

The DUP's main issue with May's deal has been the backstop - the troublesome insurance mechanism aimed at keeping Northern Ireland's border with EU-member Ireland open after Brexit.

In a serious blow for May, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) announced on Wednesday (27 March) it would not support her deal.

"Now is the time for resolute and determined leadership".

The EU now sees this as a serious possibility and is focusing nearly all of its work on how to contain the consequences, EU officials said.

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Mr Rees-Mogg, the European Research Group (ERG) chairman, had indicated that he was ready to back the deal, arguing it was preferable to no Brexit.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said a further extension to Article 50 was needed to ease tensions.

Theresa May has made "one calamitous mistake after another" and "has to bend" if she is to survive the Brexit process, according to a former taoiseach.

That window does not give British politicians enough time to reach and ratify a deal, "and yet the House has been clear it will not permit leaving without a deal", the PM said.

"There's a need now to think of businesses, to think of jobs".

In the case of May's deal being rejected, she said: "We will see more Conservative MPs finding themselves perhaps a bit less shackled by the Conservative whip and engaging in earnest on the way through to avoid us crashing out with a deal on April 12".

Dublin Fingal TD Darragh O'Brien has called on the Government to be up front about the situation, and questioned whether they are prepared for a no-deal scenario.

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