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Tue, 2 June 2020

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By Andrew McQuillan
Press releases

No-deal Brexit would be a 'high-stakes gamble with the Union', claims think tank

No-deal Brexit would be a 'high-stakes gamble with the Union', claims think tank
2 min read

Boris Johnson would be taking a "high stakes gamble with the Union" if he pursues a no-deal Brexit, according to a leading think tank.

In a major report, the Institute for Government also claimed that engagement between Westminster and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has worsened since the Tory leader became Prime Minister.

The 49-page document was published as UK and EU negotiators continue their efforts to thrash out a Brexit deal ahead of a crunch Brussels summit on Thursday and Friday.

Mr Johnson - who appointed himself Minister for the Union when he entered Downing Street - has repeatedly said that the UK must leave the EU with or without a deal on 31 October.

But the IFG report, 'No deal and the Union', said a no-deal Brexit would be "highly controversial in all three devolved nations".

It said: "A no-deal Brexit would be a high-stakes gamble with the future of the Union.

"Theresa May’s former chief of staff, Gavin Barwell, has said it was the future of the Union that persuaded the former Prime Minister that no deal was not a viable route forward for the UK.

"A number of her most senior ministers re-iterated these concerns, with Sir David Lidington warning of the ‘real risk’ to the Union posed by no deal.

"But Theresa May left Downing Street on 24 July 2019, and her successor does not seem to share these concerns to the same extent."

The report said no-deal would lead to increased calls for independence in Scotland and Wales, and for a border poll on Irish reunification.

Akash Paun, Institute for Government senior fellow, said: "If the Union is to survive and prosper, people in all parts of the country need to be persuaded of the value of remaining within the UK.

"The UK government needs a new strategy to make the positive case for the Union and improve its approach to working with the devolved governments."

Jess Sargeant, Institute for Government researcher, added: "No deal will make inter-governmental relationships much more challenging, but meaningful engagement between the UK and devolved governments will be necessary for negotiations on future international agreements.

"If the UK government continues with the same approach it has taken to EU negotiations, the cracks in the Union are likely to widen."