HUNDREDS of people have taken part in a number of mass demonstrations on the Irish border in opposition to Brexit.

Border Communities Against Brexit organised the protests to mark the day after Britain had been due to leave the European Union.

It came after a former Tory cabinet minister warned Britain may need a government of national unity.

Nicky Morgan said a cross-party coalition may be the only way to break the deadlock.

The border demonstrations yesterday took place along a number of crossing points in Co Tyrone, Co Louth, Co Donegal, Co Fermanagh, Co Cavan and Co Monaghan.

Demonstrators set up a mock check-point on the Old Dublin Road in Carrickcarnon which was manned by people dressed as customs officers.

The road was closed to members of the public as protesters carried anti-Brexit placards and EU flags.

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald was joined by party vice-president Michelle O'Neill and Newry and Armagh Sinn Fein Assembly member Conor Murphy.

Border Communities Against Brexit spokesman Declan Fearon warned a crash Brexit is "increasingly likely".

He said: "A border in the past meant this road was closed for over 40 years and this community was divided.

"We won't allow the very hard right-wing Tories and the ERG (European Research Group) and especially the DUP to destroy this community and bring us back to days when this was an economic wasteland."

Around 300 people gathered at the border on a road that was closed during the Troubles.

Many similar protests were staged on various border points between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Colin Harvey, a professor of human rights law at Queen's University Belfast School of Law, said he is against any attempt to "undermine or attack" the Good Friday Agreement.

He said: "We have long experience of people trying to put walls in our way and we take them down.

"If anybody attempts to put barriers on this island again they are coming down. Any obstacles on this island will be removed.

"We as a society are used to people putting up mountains for us to climb and we will continue to climb them. There will be no hard border on the island of Ireland.

"We are going to be the generation who ends the major division on this island, who can achieve the unification of our own country and we are going to get there."

Ms McDonald said: "We are at a very dangerous moment where we inch ever closer to the real possibility of a crash and a chaotic Brexit.

"At this stage people should understand how serious that would be for all of us.

"The reality is that Brexit in any form is a disaster for the island of Ireland."

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

She added: "The people who live in the north of Ireland wish to continue in a society that is someway prosperous, that's stable and many people identify not just as Irish but also as Europeans. They did not consent to Brexit.

"They will never, never, never give up on that point either."

Local student Aine Quinn, who lives along the border, said Brexit will bring economic chaos to the area.

She said: "Yesterday was supposed to be Brexit day and today we are no clearer on what that means than we were three years ago.

"What we do know is that there are no good outcomes for us. The British Government tried to dismiss us as a small issue among other big issues.

"The main problem for me and my community is the free movement of people, whether to work, study or trade."

The Commons is due to hold a second round of indicative votes tomorrow on alternatives to May’s plan amid warnings that Westminster is rapidly running out of time to resolve the crisis.

With the Prime Minister determined to bring back her deal for a fourth time, Nicky Morgan said if MPs were able to coalesce around one of the alternatives it may need a unity government to implement it.

“If the Government refused and Theresa May felt she could not implement what Parliament had identified as a way of leaving the EU, then I think we would have to think very hard about whether a cross-party coalition, group of people, whatever, could do that in order to make sure that the UK does leave the EU in an orderly fashion,” she told the BBC.

The former education secretary – touted as a possible “unity” prime minister – added: “It may well be that if you end up with a cross-party approach to finding a majority in the House of Commons it might be that you need a cross-party approach to implementing it.

“There have been periods in our history when we have had national unity governments or a coalition for a very specific issue.”

Her comments came after Labour deputy leader Tom Watson suggested the time had come for a national unity government.

In an interview with Prospect magazine, he said: “I prefer Labour governments and I hope we never get to a point where our economy or security is so in peril that we get a government of national unity.”

But he added: “If needs must, we have to then do what’s right.”

There appeared to be little enthusiasm for the prospect among those around Jeremy Corbyn. Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: “I’m not sure that’s going to be the solution.”

Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis also rejected the idea, insisting May’s deal was still the best way to deliver an orderly withdrawal from the EU.

Lewis made clear the Government remained opposed to the option which came closest to a majority in the first round of votes on Wednesday – a proposal by veteran Tory Ken Clarke for a customs union.

“There would be a huge number of people around the country who would understandably take the view that doesn’t respect the (referendum) vote of 2016 and it goes against our party’s manifesto,” he said.

In this week’s indicative votes, the SNP did not support the Clarke plan, a proposal that was narrowly defeated.

In an article for this newspaper, Blackford said retaining EU membership is “by far the best deal of all” and stopping Brexit “must be the priority”. However, he argued that the SNP will “continue our talks across the parties” and, in the event that Brexit goes ahead, wrote that “protecting our membership of the single market and customs union” would be crucial.

He added: “While I have limited confidence in Westminster to act in Scotland’s interests – the SNP will do everything we can to reach out, build consensus, and find a way out of this crisis.”

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister is under renewed pressure from the Brexiter wing of the party after she said it was “almost certain” that there would have to be an extended delay to Brexit if her deal does not go through.

Following the defeat on Friday, she warned the Commons would not allow Britain to leave without a deal on April 12 – the new deadline set by the EU.

Any significant extension beyond that date would require Britain to take part in elections in May to the European Parliament.

A newspaper report claimed that 170 Tory MPs had now written to the Prime Minister demanding the UK leaves within the next few months and insisting it cannot take part in the European elections.

The letter was said to have been signed by 10 members of the Cabinet – including Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Home Secretary Sajid Javid – and 20 other ministers.

Lewis said: “I haven’t signed the letter. I do know about it. I haven’t seen the full text of the letter and I haven’t seen the signatures on it.

“My view is that we should be doing everything we can to leave the European Union in good order as quickly as we can. I think the deal is the right way to do that.

“We must do everything we can to ensure we do not fight the European elections. None of us wants to do that.”

In another development, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused the Tory Government of “running down the clock” and “bullying and threatening” MPs in order to force through May’s Brexit deal.

He also refused to say whether his party would offer an option to remain in the European Union during a second round of indicative votes in the House of Commons tomorrow.

Corbyn was speaking from Newport in South Wales yesterday as he joined Labour candidate Ruth Jones ahead of the Newport West by-election next week.

Asked if Labour’s indicative vote would include an option of giving the public a confirmatory referendum on any Brexit deal, Corbyn said: “That is the Labour position so far but there hasn’t been enough support for that across the floor in the House of Commons.

“But the absolute priority at

the moment is to end this chaos the Government has brought us to by their endlessly running down the clock and basically bullying and threatening people.

“The bullying hasn’t worked the threats hasn’t worked. It’s time now for the sensible people to take over.”