Belfast Telegraph

Crashing out a high-stakes gamble that could stretch Union to breaking point: think tank

The Institute for Government (IFG) said that a no-deal Brexit would
The Institute for Government (IFG) said that a no-deal Brexit would "increase the risks faced by the Union". (Jonathan Brady/PA)

By Catherine Wylie

A no-deal Brexit would be highly controversial in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and risks taking the Union to "breaking point", a leading think tank has warned.

The Institute for Government (IFG) said that a no-deal Brexit would "increase the risks faced by the Union".

"In Northern Ireland, no deal and direct rule would make a swift return to power sharing unlikely. Pressure for a border poll on the island of Ireland is likely to increase," it added.

The report, called No-deal Brexit and the Union, warns that a no-deal scenario will have "particularly severe consequences" for Northern Ireland. The think tank added: "A no-deal Brexit would be a high-stakes gamble with the future of the Union."

The authors said short-term no-deal planning had diverted attention away from longer-term questions about the relationship between Westminster and devolved governments.

The IFG said meaningful and systematic engagement between the UK and devolved governments would be necessary for negotiations on future international agreements, including the UK-EU relationship and other trade deals.

"No deal will mean no transition period, so these unresolved issues will need to be addressed urgently in what will be an even more charged political atmosphere," the report said.

It said the Scottish government intends to hold a second independence referendum, adding that a "modest" independence movement has developed in Wales.

The IFG said: "Brexit has put a strain on relations between the nations of the UK. A no-deal departure from the EU could take it to breaking point. The Scottish and Welsh governments have felt increasingly sidelined since 2016 and, aside from the DUP, voices from Northern Ireland have been unrepresented in the Brexit process."

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