Poll shows majority in Northern Ireland favour reunification with Republic amid Brexit fears

Poll shows majority in Northern Ireland favour reunification with Republic amid Brexit fears

A new poll has found that just over half the voters in Northern Ireland are now in favour of joining the Republic in a United Ireland.

It’s thought that fears about the consequences of Brexit have led some people to question whether they want to stay as part of the United Kingdom.

The survey, carried out by the British pollster Lord Ashcroft, involved getting the views of 1,542 adults in Northern Ireland between 30 August and 2 September.

Poll shows majority in Northern Ireland favour reunification with Republic amid Brexit fears

The figures show that 46% favoured joining the Republic while 45% favoured remaining in the UK. When the ‘don’t’ knows’ were factored out it showed a slight majority of 51% in favour or reunification with 49% against.

The support was greater among young voters with 60% of 18 to 24-year-olds in favour of a United Ireland; 55% of 25 to 44-year-olds; 51% of 45 to 64-year-olds; and only 38% of those aged over 65.

Among the nationalist community, 98% were in favour of reunification compared with only 5% of unionists.

Lord Ashcroft said: “This is in fact a statistical tie, and well within the margin of error. Such a result might also reflect the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding Brexit, the Irish border and its potential effect on life in the province, which could recede when the outcome is settled.

“Be that as it may, the result underlines what could be at stake in the quest for a workable Brexit solution on the island of Ireland.”

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The Good Friday Agreement stipulates that reunification could only happen if there is a majority of 50% plus one in both the North and the South.

The Ashcroft opinion poll revealed interesting views on the timing of any reunification referendum. A total of 87% people thought that if there was a vote tomorrow, Northern Ireland would choose to remain in the UK. However, that figure dropped to 59% if there was a poll in 10 years’ time. 

The UK’s decision to leave the EU has put the spotlight on Northern Ireland because its border with the Republic will become the UK border the with EU. This leads to complications over customs checks. No one wants to see the return of a hard border with physical check points because of fears that it could reignite the Troubles.

However, the UK has so far been unable to come up with any way to avoid such a border that is acceptable to Ireland and the EU.

The poll suggests that the ongoing controversy has had an effect with nearly half of voters saying they felt less close to the UK than they did five years ago.

This is how Lord Ashcroft presented some of his poll findings on Twitter:

Written by Andrew Moore

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