Brexit LIVE: Meddling EU risks dismantling UK – Irish chief exposes plot to rejoin bloc

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Ms O’Neill, whose party is unequivocally committed to Irish unity, said planning needed to begin immediately – and claimed the UK Government’s “reckless” approach to Brexit meant more people were likely to vote for it. She said: “Now is the time to plan for unity and to start to put the facts on the table. “Let people understand what does an all-Ireland health service look like, what does an all-Ireland education system look like.”

Large numbers of people in a border poll would vote for a united Ireland, Ms O’Neill said.

She added: “So for a lot of people in this decade we have in front of us, they’re going to be considering which union they wish to be part of and the EU have offered us a route back in.

“So for some people it may not be about Britishness versus Irishness, it may be about do they value their European citizenship.

“I think that’s going to be a very interesting debate.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will outline the first stage of plans to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland’s foundation during a visit to the country on Thursday.

Speaking in advance of his trip, he said: “Together, we will make sure Northern Ireland is ready to take full advantage of the many opportunities that lie ahead and that no part of Northern Ireland is left behind.”

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7.55am update: Every date left as clock ticks down on transition period – TIMELINE

Brexit means Brexit – and the UK is getting closer to its emancipation from the European Union. What are the key dates left in the Brexit timeline?

Negotiations for a trade deal have so far failed to provide either side with a suitable agreement, and as the end of the transition period draws closer and closer, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to end Brexit with or without a trade deal in place.

Brexit represents the most important constitutional shake-up the UK has known since it joined the six-nation European Economic Community all the way back in 1973.

7.43am update: EU have offered us a way back in, Sinn Fein leader O’Neill claims

A United Ireland would offer the North a “way back in” to the European Union, Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neill has said, the day Boris Johnson paid a visit to Belfast.

Ms O’Neill, whose party in unequivocally committed to Irish unity, said planning needed to begin immediately – and claimed the UK Government’s “reckless” approach to Brexit meant more people were likely to vote for it.

She said: “Now is the time to plan for unity and to start to put the facts on the table.

“Let people understand what does an all-Ireland health service look like, what does an all-Ireland education system look like.”

Large numbers of people in a border poll would vote for a united Ireland, Ms O’Neill said.

She added: “So for a lot of people in this decade we have in front of us, they’re going to be considering which union they wish to be part of and the EU have offered us a route back in.”

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