Inside Story

How much of a threat is Brexit to the unity of the UK?

Boris Johnson has been touring the UK as a ‘no-deal’ exit looms, to reassure those worried about divorce with the EU.

Boris Johnson was met with jeers and boos from protesters as he started his tour of Edinburgh.

He was forced to leave Bute House, the official residence of Scotland‘s first minister, by the back door.

Inside, his host Nicola Sturgeon expressed discontent with Johnson’s Brexit plans. She spoke about a “catastrophic, almost inevitable path to a no-deal Brexit”.

Then it was on to Wales, where Johnson was seeking support for his Brexit plans from the country’s agricultural sector.

The Welsh farmers’ union has warned him leaving the European Union without a deal would cause “civil unrest” in rural areas.

Many British farmers rely heavily on trade with Europe, and a no-deal scenario could be costly for their business.

In Northern Ireland, his last stop, Johnson didn’t receive the warmest welcome either.

There’s broad consensus that leaving the EU without a deal could be dramatic, because of the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which will become a border into Europe.

If a no-deal happens, the Sinn Fein party said the government must call a referendum on Irish Unity immediately. However, Northern Ireland has been without a sitting government since 2017.

So has Johnson convinced the sceptics, or is the United Kingdom fracturing even further?

Presenter: Kamahl Santamaria


Alan Wager – research associate with The UK in a Changing Europe initiative at King’s College London

Jonathan Lis – deputy director of British Influence, a pro-European think tank

Alasdair Soussi – writer on Scottish political affairs