Boris Johnson’s ‘no-deal’ Brexit risks the break-up of the UK

Nick Lowles - 11 08 19

A new poll shows that a majority of Scots think a ‘no-deal’ Brexit would lead to Scottish independence and the break-up of the UK.

The Observer and Sunday Times newspapers report on new comments from Gordon Brown this morning, going off the findings of a poll commissioned by HOPE not hate. It all makes for very stark reading. The Brexit debate is entering a crucial phase and the impact on our country will be great. 

The poll of 1,705 Scots found that 60% predicted that support for Scottish Independence will increase if the British Government takes the country out of the EU without a deal. Just 15% disagree. And according to a separate HOPE not hate poll of 3,200 adults, 57% of Conservative Party supporters think the break up of the UK is a price worth paying to achieve Brexit.

“Three weeks into the Johnson Prime Ministership the Conservative and Unionist Party has transformed itself into the Conservative and Brexit Party”

– former Prime Minister Gordon Brown

In pursuing a chaotic no deal Brexit, Boris Johnson is risking the very future of the United Kingdom and potentially unleashing a dangerous English nationalism. That should frighten us all. HOPE not hate is opposed to a no deal Brexit because the political and economic fall out would create a fertile breeding ground for the far right.

Today’s Observer

There is a series of interesting findings in this poll

  • Almost half of those polled in our Scottish poll (45%) felt that Johnson is willing to sacrifice the union to deliver Brexit, with just a fifth of voters disagreeing.
  • The scale of Johnson’s task in winning over the Scots is evident in this poll. By a margin of more than two-to-one, Scots oppose leaving the EU without a deal, whilst just 14% thinking it would be good for Britain.
  • By a margin of over four-to-one, Scots think that Brexit has reduced Britain’s standing in the world.
  • The prospects of the demands the US might impose of a possible free trade deal worry Scots. A staggering 86% would oppose a free trade deal that included the UK accepting chlorinated chicken. 
  • The same numbers of people would also oppose a free trade deal that opened the NHS to American companies.

Deeper problems

Johnson’s problems go deeper than just the findings on his Brexit plans. The Scots simply do not like him.

Over half of respondents (55%) thought Johnson was a “buffoon” when offered a selection of positive and negative words to describe him. The second most popular word is “untrustworthy”, then “self-serving” (31%) and “irresponsible” (23%). It is only after this that people choose a more neutral word (Brexiteer) to describe Johnson. Almost two-thirds of people thought Boris Johnson was elitest and was not interested in people like them, with just a fifth taking an opposing view.

With support for the SNP now at 38.5%, it clear that any snap General Election will see the nationalists take seats off both the Conservatives and Labour. Our poll shows a slump in support for both main parties, with the Tories down from 28.6% in 2017 to 20.2% today, while Labour have slipped further back from 27.1% in 2017 to just 14.7% today.


The big gainers are the Liberal Democrats, who are now on 13.1%, up from 6.8% in 2017, and the Brexit Party who are on 6.7%.

While opposition to Brexit and even Boris Johnson is probably not unexpected, what is more startling is the number of Conservative voters in England who do not seem to mind Scotland breaking away. In a separate poll of 3,370, 56% of people who say that they would vote Conservative if the General Election was held now say that they wanted Brexit to go ahead even if it meant Scotland going independent.

“To prevent the rise of dysfunctional nationalism, the first step is to stop no deal in its tracks.”

– Gordon Brown in today’s Observer

For a party that officially calls itself the Conservative and Unionist Party, this is a remarkable and reflects the growing Englishness of the Conservative Party and its supporters which has been creeping in over several years.

With over 70% of all Leave voters sharing the view that Brexit had to go ahead even if it meant Scotland going independent, and growing support for Independence in Scotland as a consequence of Johnson’s leadership and desire for a No Deal Brexit, there is a very real danger that one of the consequences of a No Deal Brexit will be the break-up of the United Kingdom. 

These stark numbers make Gordon Brown’s intervention all the more important.

Please do take a moment to read his article for the Observer


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