The Government has said it will intensify preparations for a no-deal Brexit after British MPs overwhelming voted to reject a divorce deal that UK Prime Minister Theresa May had struck with EU leaders.

A statement from the Government this evening said it regrets the outcome of the vote in Westminster, saying it will add to the uncertainty about the nature of the UK withdrawal from the EU and increase the risk of a disorderly Brexit.

The statement also urged the UK "to set out how it proposes to move forward". 

"We will then consider what next steps to take in consultation with our EU partners," said the statement.

The statement also said that the clear position of the European Council meeting in December was that the Withdrawal Agreement is not open for renegotiation. 

"The Withdrawal Agreement was concluded, following lengthy and detailed negotiations, as a fair and balanced compromise to a very complicated situation," it read.

The Government said it continues to believe that ratification of the Agreement is the best way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the UK, which avoids a hard border and respects the single market and Customs Union, while also delivering on the UK's objectives for withdrawal.

The statement also said the vote increased the risk of a disorderly Brexit and the Government would continue to intensify preparations for such an outcome.

"The Irish Government recognises, however, that a disorderly Brexit is a bad outcome for everyone, not least in Northern Ireland. 

"It is not too late to avoid this outcome and we call on the UK to set out how it proposes to resolve this impasse as a matter of urgency," the statement concluded.

Meanwhile, the Fianna Fáil leader said that tonight's result in Westminster creates greater uncertainty.

Micheál Martin said that no stone should be left unturned here to ensure this country is prepared for all outcomes, including a no-deal Brexit.


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Labour Leader Brendan Howlin said the result indicated that no tweaking of the Withdrawal Agreement would be passed in Westminster.

He predicted that the government there would survive a no-confidence motion and efforts to push for a second referendum would then intensify.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said that the Taoiseach needs to stand firm on the backstop.

"Ireland’s people, Ireland’s economy and Ireland’s peace process all need to be protected as we go forward now.

"The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste and our partners at a European level need to stand firm and not move away from or attempt to dilute the backstop," said Ms McDonald.