Taoiseach should refuse to compromise on Brexit, voters say
‘Irish Times’/Ipsos MRBI poll finds overwhelming majority backs Varadkar’s stance
British prime minister Theresa May and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker at the start of the European Council summit in Brussels. Photograph: EPA/Olivier Hoslet
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British prime minister Theresa May during a bilateral meeting in Brussels, Belgium. File photograph: Government handout/PA Wire
An overwhelming majority of voters believe that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar should stick to his position on Brexit and should not compromise to achieve a deal with the UK, the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll has found.
The poll also shows that most voters are “very concerned” that any sort of new Border would damage peace in Ireland.
As European leaders gather in Brussels for talks about Brexit – first with the British prime minister and later without her – the poll demonstrates significant backing for the Government’s position on the issue, which is supported by the main parties at home.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar emphasised again this week that while the State is willing to hear suggestions on how the Border backstop – the guarantee there will be no return to a hard Border after Brexit – is reflected in the UK’s withdrawal treaty with the EU, it will not compromise on the principle of having a backstop.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, as well as EU heads of government arriving in Brussels last night for the Brexit talks, all agreed with the Government’s stance.
Asked if the State “should stick to its position of avoiding any sort of new Border or should it be prepared to compromise to help achieve a Brexit deal?”, 72 per cent of voters said that the State should stick with its position.
Just one-fifth of voters (20 per cent) said that the State should be prepared to compromise, while 8 per cent expressed no opinion.
Support for maintaining a hard line is consistent amongst voters of all parties (strongest in Fianna Fáil), areas, age groups and social classes.
The vast majority of voters also say they are concerned that any new Border imposed after Brexit would threaten the peace process in the North.
In the survey, voters were asked: “If Brexit results in some sort of a new Border, how concerned, if at all, would you be that this Border would damage the peace on the island of Ireland?”
More than half of all voters said that they would be “very concerned”, while a further 25 per cent said that they would be “fairly concerned”.
Just 12 per cent said they would be “not that concerned”, while 5 per cent said they would be “not that concerned at all” about a new Border. Four per cent did not express an opinion.
Older voters were the most concerned by the prospect of the return of some sort of Border on the island after Brexit.
The poll was conducted on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week among a representative sample of 1,200 voters aged 18 and over, in face-to-face interviews at 120 sampling points covering all constituencies. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.8 per cent.