Just one in three people in Britain hopes Northern Ireland would vote to remain in UK

New poll also finds that a similar number of British people think Brexit makes a united Ireland more likely in next ten years

Just over one in three people in Britain hope that Northern Ireland remains in the United Kingdom, according to a new poll.

The research by Ipsos MORI for King's College London found that more Leave than Remain voters would want the North to stay in the Union. It also found that almost one in three voters think Brexit makes it more likely that there will be a united Ireland in the next decade.

The survey, conducted online in February with 1,084 adults aged 16-75 across Britain, asked how people would prefer Northern Ireland to vote if it were to hold a referendum on its future.

Only 36 per cent said they would like Northern Ireland to choose to stay in the United Kingdom while 18 per cent preferred it leaving and joining up with the Republic. A further 36 per cent said they did not mind either way while 9 per cent did not have an opinion.


A 2014 Populus poll that asked how people hoped Scotland would vote in its independence referendum found 54 per cent wanted Scotland to vote to remain part of the UK while 17 per cent hoped it would vote for independence and 29 per cent said they had no strong view.

‘Never been there’

Commenting on the poll Roger Mortimore, professor of public opinion and political analysis at King's College London, said: "When Scotland voted on whether to become independent in 2014, there was a clear majority among the public in the rest of the UK that hoped it would choose to stay.

“But many fewer Britons, it seems, would mind if Northern Ireland decided to leave the union. Most have never been there, and most have no clear view on how it will be affected by Brexit.”

British Conservative party supporters (51 per cent) were most likely to hope that Northern Ireland would vote to remain in the UK, compared to 35 per cent of Labour supporters and 31 per cent of Liberal Democrats.

The poll found that those who voted for Britain to Remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum were more likely (23 per cent) to want Northern Ireland to leave the UK and join the Republic than are those who voted Leave (15 per cent).

The research also found that 32 per cent think that Brexit will make it more likely that the North and Republic unite over the next 10 years, with 6 per cent thinking it makes it less likely. A majority think it will make no difference or do not know.

Close to two in five (39 per cent) predict Brexit will have a negative effect on the Northern Irish economy over the next 10 years or so with 33 per cent forecasting a similar impact on the Republic’s economy. Close to one in three (31 per cent) fear that Brexit risks triggering a new wave of terrorism in the North.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times