A new poll by Lord Ashcroft has revealed growing support for a unified Ireland with many citing Brexit as a motive for quitting the UK.
Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, a referendum on uniting Ireland could be held if it appears likely it would have a chance of passing in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
And support for reunification has ballooned since Brexit, which saw Northern Ireland vote 57 percent in favour of Remaining in the EU.
Ironically, for the ultra-unionist DUP, who were the only major Northern Irish party to campaign for Leave, it appears their support for Brexit has actually contributed to a rise in support their Doomsday Scenario: the reunification of Ireland.
A new poll by Lord Ashcroft Polls has revealed 44 percent of Northern Irish residents would vote in favour of quitting the UK and joining the Republic if a referendum was held tomorrow.
Forty-nine percent of respondents said they would vote to stay in the UK while seven percent said they did not know how they would vote.
Pollsters, who interviewed 1,666 Northern Irish adults between May 24 and 28, revealed even those who opposed a united Ireland believed a referendum would eventually be held.
Lord Ashcroft Polls said in the full report: “More than half of DUP voters said there should never be a referendum but fewer than one in five of them thought there never would be.
“More than eight in 10 Nationalists and three in 10 Unionists thought there would be a ‘border poll’ within the next decade.”
The poll also spoke to voters in England, Scotland and Wales, who said leaving the EU was more important than keeping Northern Ireland in the union.
The poll report said: “If it were not possible both to leave the EU and to keep England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales together in the UK, 63 percent of Leave voters in Great Britain (including 73 percent of Conservatives) said they would choose to leave the EU.
“27 percent said they would choose to keep the UK together, and one in ten say they didn’t know.”
Today’s poll announcement backs up another released earlier this month. The Lucid Talk poll, which was commissioned by the BBC, revealed 42.1 percent of those surveyed would vote to join the Republic in a unified Ireland, just three points – the margin of error – behind those who want to remain in the UK. The remainder were undecided.
However, despite the growing support for Irish unification in Northern Ireland, voters in the Republic of Ireland appear more muted on the idea.
Pollsters interviewed 1,500 adults in the Republic of Ireland between May 31 and June 5 as part of their wide-ranging report.
Today’s poll discovered just over a third of voters in the Republic would like to see a united Ireland “in the next few years”.
However, a majority said they agreed with the statement: “I am in favour of a united Ireland in principle, but it would not be practical or affordable for the Republic of Ireland in the next few years.”
A united Ireland would need to be backed by voters in both the Republic and north of Ireland.
Today’s poll was welcomed by Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazard, who said on Twitter: “Hey Northern Ireland office, another poll, similar outcome – growing desire for Irish reunification: 44 percent vs 49 percent.”
He then added the hashtag #UnityAnois, which translates as Unity Now.