Irish voters back David Cameron’s EU reforms and Brexit

Majority back Ireland staying in EU even if UK exits, says Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll

Britain’s prime minister David Cameron: poll shows a majority of voters in Ireland support some of the key changes in the way the EU operates being sought by him. Photograph:  Leonhard Foeger/Reuters

Britain’s prime minister David Cameron: poll shows a majority of voters in Ireland support some of the key changes in the way the EU operates being sought by him. Photograph: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters

 

The complexity of Ireland’s relationship with the UK on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising is illustrated by the response of voters in the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll to the prospect of Britain leaving the European Union.

On the one hand the vast majority of Irish voters want the UK to remain in the EU but there is equally strong support for the view that Ireland should remain in the EU if the British decide to leave.

It is also fascinating to note the poll shows a majority of voters here support some of the key changes in the way the EU operates being sought by British prime minister David Cameron.

On the basic question of whether the UK should remain a member of the EU a massive 75 per cent of Irish voters want it to stay while just 13 per cent would like to see our neighbours leave.

Broken down by party support, 89 per cent of Fine Gael voters and 91 per cent of Labour voters want the UK to stay. This figure drops to 78 per cent among Fianna Fáil voters, 75 per cent among those who support Independents/Others and 58 per cent among Sinn Féin voters.

Still, even among Sinn Féin voters there is a majority of more than two to one in favour of the UK remaining.

Polls

Middle-class voters and farmers are a little more enthusiastic than working- class voters on the issue but there is no variation across age groups.

On whether Ireland should remain if the British leave, the figures are very similar with 74 per cent saying we should stay and 15 per cent saying we should leave.

Paradoxically, Sinn Féin voters are much more inclined to follow the British if they leave than the supporters of other parties, while Fine Gael supporters are the most adamant we should remain.

Asked if they felt four of Cameron’s key demands should be applied to all EU countries, including Ireland, there was strong backing for the prime minister’s position.

On the British proposal that more power should be given to national parliaments, 58 per cent were in favour and 20 per cent against. Independent and Fianna Fáil voters were the most strongly in favour of giving more power to national parliaments with Sinn Féin and Labour the least enthusiastic.

On giving member states the right to opt out of further integration, 59 per cent were in favour and 22 per cent against.

Asked if they agreed that the free movement of labour from new member states should be prevented until their economies develop, 54 per cent were in favour and 25 per cent against.

Sinn Féin voters were more strongly supportive of the British position than supporters of other parties, with 63 per cent backing the plan. Labour voters were the least supportive.

The issue where there was strongest support for the British position was on ending child benefit payments to migrants whose children remained in their home country, with 70 per cent in favour and 20 per cent against.

Voters who back Independents and small parties were the strongest in support of the move, closely followed by Labour and Sinn Féin voters. Fianna Fáil voters were the least enthusiastic but were still in support of the move by a substantial majority.