The Brexit Diaries - Week 11: Will Brexit break up the UK?

PRWeek has partnered with insight and strategy consultancy BritainThinks in a unique project to take the temperature of both leave and remain voters in the run-up to Article 50 being triggered.

Leavers sound like remainers and vice versa on the question of #indyref, writes Spencer Livermore
Leavers sound like remainers and vice versa on the question of #indyref, writes Spencer Livermore

What impact will Brexit have on the future integrity of the United Kingdom?

That question has dominated the Government’s in-tray this past week, and it has been the top issue for our Brexit Diarists, too.

This week’s Brexit Diaries – recording the views of 100 citizens across Britain, 52 who voted to leave and 48 who voted to remain – show that the potential for another Scottish independence vote was the most noticed news story for both leavers and remainers.

Our diarists began by considering the issue of whether or not Nicola Sturgeon was right to call for a second referendum, and their views divided very neatly along the lines of how they voted in the EU referendum last year.

The leave voters happily imported the now-familiar language of Brexit, saying that Nicola Sturgeon was wrong to call for another referendum, and that she should "respect the will of the people".

In language that could easily apply to either Brexit or Scottish independence, one leave voter said: "The people have voted and that should be that".

Remain voters had far more sympathy with Scotland, believing they had voted to remain and were therefore being forced to leave the EU "against their will".

"I strongly agree with Nicola Sturgeon", said one remain voter. Another summed it up like this: "The current political situation is a turning point in the political history of the UK. She’s right to call for another Scottish referendum as the majority of Scottish people voted remain."

However, asking our diarists to say if the Scottish people would be right or wrong to vote for independence produced a really fascinating result.

All of our diarists adopted a completely opposite position on the Scottish referendum to their position on the EU referendum.

So our leave voters believe Scotland would be wrong to leave the UK, while our remain voters believe they would be right to do so. Ultimately, their views on Brexit trump any other issue.

On this issue, our leave diarists’ responses could be mistaken for remainers’ opinions in any other week of the Brexit Diaries.

"Why they would want to leave is a mystery to me". "It would be an economic disaster for them". "We’re much more prosperous together". "We’re tied historically and geographically".

And the same was true for remainers: "They’re right to vote for independence". "They should go it alone and make their own decisions".

Our diarists were unanimous, though, in backing Theresa May’s decision to deny the SNP’s call for a second referendum.

Some believed it would be a distraction: "She should be putting 100% into concentrating on her upcoming negotiations with the EU". "She needs to concentrate on the major issue at hand".

Others feared that a divided UK would get a worse deal: "We need to stand united". "Let’s pull together – we’re stronger in numbers". "It’s essential we stick together in this time of hardship for Britain".

But there was one leave voter who probably shouldn’t be put in charge of negotiating with Scotland, commenting: "We should work together – it’s part of England!"

Spencer Livermore is a partner at BritainThinks

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