Brexit has not boosted support for a united Ireland, polling shows

Just 17 per cent say their view has been changed by the Leave vote

Image: Number 10

New evidence suggests that across Northern Ireland, the Brexit vote has had little impact on people’s views about remaining in the UK, despite the majority vote for Remain.

According to new polling by Ipsos Mori for BBC Northern Ireland’s The View, 83 per cent of those questioned said the leaving the EU made no difference to their views on whether or not Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK. 17 per cent said that it had changed their minds.

The findings come despite reports of a surge in demand for Irish passports from those living in the North.

Sinn Féin has called for a poll on Northern Ireland’s constitutional future following the Brexit vote, but just 33 per cent of those question wanted the Government to call a border referendum, with 52 per cent opposing it.

In the event of such a vote taking place, the BBC/Ipsos Mori poll finds that 63 per cent of people in Northern Ireland would vote to stay in the UK, with just 22 per cent supported a United Ireland.

This compares to a similar BBC/Ipsos Mori poll in 2013 which found that 65 per cent wanted to stay in the UK and 17 per cent who supported the North uniting with the rest of Ireland.

Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has the power to call a border poll ‘if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland.’

The poll findings come as Peers yesterday questioned Ministers on the implications of Brexit for the Good Friday Agreement.

Speaking for the Government, Viscount Younger told the House of Lords that ‘the future of the Belfast [Good Friday] agreement is not, and never has been, in question.’

‘The UK’s exit from the EU does not change the commitment of the UK Government and the people of Northern Ireland to the Belfast agreement, its successors and the institutions that they establish.’

During the deliberations, the former Labour Northern Ireland Secretary, Lord (Peter) Hain question if it was ‘not unthinkable that, in an era of mass refugee migration and jihadi terrorism, the only land border between the UK and the EU would be completely open’.

Viscount Leckie said the point was ‘well made’.

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor at Left Foot Forward

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