Majority of Northern voters want minimal disruption to daily life
Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll: Appetite for second Brexit referendum is mixed
There is broader support for Northern Ireland having a special customs arrangement to ensure no checks on the Border with the Republic. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
As Northern Ireland’s future post-Brexit remains unclear, today’s Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll finds that the majority of Northern Irish voters wish to see minimal disruption to daily life, with 67 per cent believing that the UK should stay in the EU single market and customs union to ensure no hard border with the Republic of Ireland and no checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
Despite this desire to maintain the status quo, appetite for a second Brexit referendum is mixed. Fieldwork for today’s poll took place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week among a nationally representative sample of 536 eligible voters in Northern Ireland. Interviewing was conducted face-to-face, in-home, across all regions.
Views fall distinctly along community lines, with support for remaining in the EU higher among Catholics
Although 48 per cent of voters are in favour of another Brexit referendum, almost as many – 44 per cent – are against. There are notable community differences, with 63 per cent of Catholics in favour and 61 per cent of Protestants against.
If there was to be a second referendum, 59 per cent say they would vote to stay in the EU and 30 per cent say they would vote to leave. Again, views fall distinctly along community lines, with support for remaining in the EU higher among Catholics (76 per cent) than among Protestants (42 per cent).
Beyond Brexit, the options for border and customs arrangements facing Northern Ireland draw mixed levels of support.
Although it is the position of Northern Ireland’s leading party – the DUP – that Northern Ireland should leave on the same terms as the rest of the UK, this view does not enjoy majority support. Just over a third (35 per cent) agree with the DUP, while almost half (48 per cent) disagree. As would be expected, Protestant voters are more likely to agree with the DUP on this, with 54 per cent sharing this view.
There is broader support for Northern Ireland having a special customs arrangement to ensure no checks on the Border with the Republic; 60 per cent agree with this position, despite the potential for some checks on goods crossing the Irish sea to Great Britain.
Today’s poll indicates that support is strongest for the whole of the UK staying in the EU single market and customs union to avoid a hard border with the Republic and ensure no checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Sixty-seven per cent of voters support this position, 17 per cent oppose it. Once again, the community lines are clear; 81 per cent of Catholics are in support compared to 52 per cent of Protestants.
There is no clear consensus on how Brexit will impact Northern Ireland in terms of its constitutional future. While over a third of people think that Brexit will make the prospect of a United Ireland more likely (36 per cent), a similar number think it will make it no more or less likely (35 per cent). Thirteen per cent of voters think Brexit will make the prospect of a United Ireland less likely, while 16 per cent simply do not know what impact, if any, Brexit will have.
If there was to be a referendum, 45 per cent say they would vote against Irish unity
Views on Irish unity remain mixed. While 45 per cent of Northern Irish voters feel there should not be a referendum on Irish unity, just over a third – 38 per cent – feel there should be one. Opposition to a referendum is strongest among Protestants (62 per cent) while Catholics are more likely to favour another referendum (55 per cent).
If there was to be a referendum, 45 per cent say they would vote against Irish unity and 32 per cent would vote in favour. Almost a quarter of Northern Irish voters (23 per cent) are undecided. In this climate of uncertainty, the push for consistency from Northern Irish voters is clear.
Sally Abernethy is a Senior Research Executive with Ipsos MORI Northern Ireland