After putting 3,500 troops on standby in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit and barges instructed to reserve place for 'emergency supplies', Theresa May and her government are taking their "Project Fear" - the campaign of doomsaying warnings and threats designed to push MPs to vote for May's Brexit withdrawal agreement - to the next level by reviving fears about violence in Northern Ireland.
According to the Guardian, some 1,000 police officers from England and Scotland are beginning preparations and training for a possible deployment to Northern Ireland in case a 'no deal' Brexit forces the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the EU - the only land border between an EU state and the UK.
Avoiding the return of the hard border has been one of the most contentious issues in the Brexit withdrawal deal negotiation - avoiding the return of the border was the aim of the controversial "Irish Backstop". The plan is being put in place after the Police Service of Northern Ireland requested reinforcements to deal with any trouble that arises from a hard border. The training for officers from English forces and Police Scotland is expected to begin this month.
the report comes as Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar insisted that no revisions to May's Brexit plan would be made, and other EU leaders rebuffed May's latest attempt at reopening negotiations, quashing rumors that a breakthrough might have been possible. Burning the candle at the other end, the DUP rebuffed May's attempt to win their votes for her plan, setting back hopes that she and her chief whip might be able to drum up the votes for her deal to pass during a scheduled Jan. 14 "meaningful vote."
The officers were requested to cover the possibility of widespread public disorder should a hard border return.
The size of the request is nearly double the size of the number requested during Ireland's "Marching Season", when the possibility of violence between Catholics and Protestants is at its highest.
Still, some MPs were quick to dismiss a 'no deal' Brexit as highly unlikely, with one MP called fears about the return of a hard border "nonsense propaganda."
In remarks rejecting the government’s latest overtures to the DUP, the party’s Nigel Dodds said fears of a hard border were "nonsense propaganda," adding: "With this clarity emerging in London, Dublin and Brussels, there is evidently no need for this aspect of the withdrawal agreement."
Still, with only 85 days left until Brexit Day, May's ability to pass her deal is far from assured. And despite all the chatter about a 'Plan B', a delay or a second referendum, no workable alternative has materialized.