Britons, the pro-remain and anti-no-deal crowd argue, never voted to cut ties with the 28-nation bloc without the new terms of their future relationship being made clear. Johnson and his close group of hardline Brexit allies in the government argue, however, that the people have spoken; they voted in 2016 to leave the EU, and now that vote must be honored, come hell or high water.How United is the Kingdom?There are also complicated implications for the future cohesion of the United Kingdom if a no-deal Brexit comes to pass. Britain is actually four unified nations; England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.Support for a second independence referendum in Scotland, where a majority opted to remain in the EU in 2016 is believed to have grown since that original vote. Two years before that Brexit referendum, Scots voted to stay in the U.K. in a separate, national referendum (yes, they seem to have become a trend over here). The outcome of a potential second independence referendum in Scotland is far from certain, but calls for one to happen are mounting.Then there’s Northern Ireland. The British territory is the only U.K. soil that has a land border with the EU, as the Republic of Ireland is an independent nation and EU member state. The Good Friday Agreement of 1999 ended years of bloody sectarian conflict and opened the Irish border up for smooth traffic. In the 20 years since, many people have built their lives and businesses around their ability, and the ability of goods they buy and sell, to pass between the two countries without friction.

The EU is adamant that any Brexit agreement with Britain must include a so-called “backstop” provision, designed to ensure the Irish border stays open even if negotiations between the U.K. and Brussels drag on for years. Johnson and other Brexiteers say the way the backstop is crafted, it would effectively keep Britain beholden to EU regulations if no broader agreement was reached. That qualm blocked approval in Britain’s Parliament of the draft agreement reached by Johnson’s predecessor with Brussels. There’s has been no indication yet that the EU is willing to renegotiate the backstop.If Brexit goes ahead with no deal, it would mean re-institution of at least some security checks on the Irish border, as all goods and people would suddenly be subject to customs and immigration inspection. That, many fear, could rekindle tensions still simmering just beneath the surface.

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