Support for Irish unity ‘virtually unchanged after Brexit’

The UK voted to leave the EU in Junes referendum
The UK voted to leave the EU in Junes referendum

A new survey has indicated that little over one-fifth of Northern Irish people would back a united Ireland in a border poll – and that less than half of Catholics would support reunification.

Those are the findings of a poll carried out by the agency Ipsos Mori on behalf of the BBC, which aimed to gauge the public appetite for leaving the UK following June’s EU referendum.

Around 17% of respondents indicated that the anti-EU result of the vote had “changed their thinking” on the subject of the Province’s constitutional status. The remaining 83% said it had not.

The results of the survey were aired on the BBC One show The View last night.

The Ipsos Mori survey had polled the views of “more than 1,000 people” in face-to-face interviews during mid-August and early September.

The results showed that 33% of those interviewed favour a border referendum, while 52% oppose the move.

If such a poll was held, 63% of respondents said they would vote to stay in the UK; meanwhile 22% would support a united Ireland.

Another 13% said they did not know, while 2% would not vote in a border poll.

While support for exiting the Union was relatively low, it is up on 2013, when Ipsos Mori last carried out such a poll on the BBC’s behalf.

At that time, the BBC said that support for staying in the UK was “estimated at 65%”. However, the corporation said this 2% decrease was “not statistically significant”.

In 2013, 17% had backed a united Ireland. This subsequent 5% increase was described by the BBC as “a significant change”.

Among the findings was that 43% of people from a Catholic background would support a united Ireland (up from 35% in 2013).

Despite suggestions from Gerry Adams for a border poll to be held after the Brexit result, the survey showed that the vast bulk – 83% – “had not altered their position” on the Union as a result of Brexit.

The findings further showed the 17% of people whose views had been influenced by Brexit were “slightly more likely to be female”, from a Catholic background, and to be affluent.

The survey also found if Scotland voted for independence, 18% said it would make them more likely to vote for Northern Ireland to remain in the UK, and 15% it would make them more likely to vote for a united Ireland.

However, the views of most would remain unchanged.