04:01 GMT28 February 2020
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    With further Brexit negotiations between the UK and EU now having got underway, the future of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland remains a contentious topic.

    Dr Ben Williams, Lecturer in Politics and Political Theory at the University of Salford, has commented in an interview with Sputnik on whther British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be able to find a viable solution to the Irish border issue that placates both Westminster and Stormont.

    Sputnik: Could Brexit in any form lead to a United Ireland or independent Scotland?

    Dr Ben Williams: I’ve actually consistently said that once the Brexit vote happened in 2016; there were some real risks for the whole future of UK, and that’s on the basis that Northern Ireland and Scotland, in particular, did have votes to remain the EU, and there was a significant remain view in those countries.

    We’re now seeing the materialisation of that, whereby the Northern Ireland situation is coming to ahead, and the practical arrangements are being put in place, developments in the south with this recent General Election, and now Northern Ireland is going to be treated differently, it would appear, and that has got some big repercussions for calling ourselves the United Kingdom.

    If we are going to be treating areas significantly differently; then there are question marks about how united the country overall is.

    Sputnik: Will the UK be able to negotiate a trade deal with the EU by the end of 2020?

    Dr Ben Williams: During the General Election last year, Boris Johnson gave the impression that a Brexit deal was “oven-ready”, that there was a deal in place, now since the election he seems to have backtracked on that, and based on some initial further conversations with the EU, a deal isn’t in place, and there are going to be some areas of difference it would appear.

    There’s talk about the EU still wanting some access to British fishing waters and some issues to do with the city of London, and all kinds of other complicated areas, and I think that there are people around Boris Johnson who are encouraging him to walk away, and if rumours are to be believed; these include senior advisors such as Dominic Cummings, who take the view that Britain could cope with a no-deal.

    I think that the government doesn’t want a no-deal Brexit, but I think it is prepared for one, and I think that if it feels that Europe isn’t bending to its requests; it may well pursue that route, and of course that is a risk, whatever way you look at it.

    A lot of people say that it is scaremongering, but it is certainly a bigger risk to leave the EU without a deal than to leave with a deal of some sort, so I think that Boris Johnson is obviously playing some sort of game of diplomacy here, a negotiating tactic, but it’s a risky one.

    Sputnik: Would the EU or UK be more affected by a no-deal Brexit?

    Dr Ben Williams: On a personal level; I don’t think that either side wants a no-deal scenario and I think that both the UK and EU would be damaged by a no-deal Brexit, but my own view is that because the EU has a kind of collective solidarity of twenty-seven nations, and Britain is a nation on its own.

    Ok; the UK is going to form deals with other countries, but my own interpretation is that because the EU is a collective body that can kind of bolster and support each other in terms of each other’s states, I take the view that the EU could probably deal with a no-deal Brexit better than Britain could.

    There is a fear that Britain is going to walk into this situation and come off worse, and of course, there could be some real implications for people’s jobs, businesses and livelihoods if that happens, and of course, Boris Johnson is taking a risk.

    If it goes wrong; then the electoral repercussions for Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party could be severe, I know that there won’t be an election for quite some time, but voters will have memories of this if it goes wrong.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Tags:
    no-deal Brexit, border, Northern Ireland, Brexit, European Union, U.K
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