Voters in North would support remain more strongly in second referendum

Almost 70% would favour remaining compared to 56% in original June 2016 vote

The survey was carried out for the Economic and Social Research Council which is funding the UK in a Changing Europe project.  Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The survey was carried out for the Economic and Social Research Council which is funding the UK in a Changing Europe project. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

 

People in Northern Ireland would vote more strongly to remain in the European Union if another Brexit referendum was held, a new study suggests.

A total of 69 per cent would favour remaining if there was another vote compared to the 56 per cent who voted to stay in the union in June 2016, the survey by the UK in a Changing Europe project found.

Catholic respondents were much more likely to support a united Ireland if there was a “hard exit” in which the UK left the customs union and single market.

Some 28 per cent of Catholics would vote for a united Ireland if the UK changed its mind and remained in the EU while 53 per cent of Catholics would vote for a united Ireland if there was a hard exit in which the UK left the customs union and single market.

The Irish Border is one of the most difficult questions facing negotiators who aim to strike a deal by the autumn ahead of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU next year.

Brendan O’Leary, Lauder Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, who also holds a visiting position at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), said: “The proportion wanting to Remain has risen since the 2016 referendum as more people have become aware of the possible costs and inconveniences of leaving the EU, as citizens and as employees or employers.”

Non-partisan reference point

The survey was carried out for the Economic and Social Research Council which is funding the UK in a Changing Europe project. It said it provided an authoritative, non-partisan and impartial reference point for those looking for information, insights and analysis about UK-EU relations that stands aside from politics surrounding the debate.

Some 61 per cent of the North’s population favoured the UK as a whole remaining in the customs union and single market.The survey also found there were strong expectations that protests against checks at the Irish Border or between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK would quickly become violent.

Meanwhile, a British government working group including Brexit secretary David Davis, business secretary Greg Clark and Northern secretary Karen Bradley visited Belfast yesterday for what was described as a “customs fact-finding mission”.

A statement from the Department for Exiting the European Union said the visit was “part of their working group exploring potential future customs arrangements, focusing on the proposed Highly Streamlined Customs Arrangements”.

The department said the working group met representatives from the freight industry, cross-Border businesses and community stakeholders to “further explore how the highly-streamlined customs model could address the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland”.

- PA