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Warning UK could split if Brexit deal is forced on regions

By David Hughes

Published 24/10/2016

Britain's Prime minister Theresa May. AFP/Getty Images
Britain's Prime minister Theresa May. AFP/Getty Images

The UK faces a "full-blown constitutional crisis", and a rift at Stormont, unless all its constituent nations agree on the Government's approach to Brexit, a leading think tank has warned.

In a message to Theresa May, the Institute for Government (IfG) said the four UK governments should agree the "core planks" of the UK's negotiating position before the Prime Minister triggers Article 50, formally starting the Brexit process.

The IfG warned that imposing a Brexit settlement on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland may be legally possible but it would be a "reckless strategy" which could lead to the possible break-up of the UK.

The report acknowledged the difficulties that will be faced in reaching consensus between Mrs May, and the devolved governments, but warned of a "serious breakdown in relations" if agreement was not reached.

Although the UK Parliament is sovereign and it would therefore be legally possible to ignore the views of Holyrood, Cardiff Bay and Stormont, this would be a "reckless strategy for a government committed to the Union, since it would seriously undermine relationships between the four governments, and increase the chances of Scottish independence and rifts in Northern Ireland's fragile power-sharing arrangements.".

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