No evidence public opinion has changed on Irish unity: DUP MP

Sammy Wilson said a border poll would be destabilising
Sammy Wilson said a border poll would be destabilising

Sammy Wilson has said he is “confident” that a majority of people in Northern Ireland would vote in favour of retaining the Province’s constitutional status within the UK.

The DUP MP said there is “no evidence” that the public mood in Northern Ireland has shifted over the issue of Irish reunification.

When asked about reports that the prime minister had doubts that the government would win a referendum on maintaining Northern Ireland’s place within the UK, Mr Wilson told the News Letter: “I wasn’t there so I don’t know if that is what the prime minister said or not. But if the reports are correct then she is wrong. All the opinion polls indicate there is no desire to change the constitutional position of Northern Ireland.

“Any border poll can only be held when the government has taken the view that there is a significant change in public opinion on whether NI should stay within UK. Clearly there is no evidence of that.”

The East Antrim MP said he was “confident” that a border poll would serve to cement NI’s place within the United Kingdom.

But he warned that a referendum on the issue of the border would be “destabilising” and urged Theresa May to think back to similar votes that took place recently in other countries.

He added: “A border poll would be deeply polarising, we saw that with the Scottish independence referendum and events in Catalonia. The PM should learn from that and not repeat the same mistake.

“There are already sufficient things in NI which are causing polarisation without adding the further tension of a border poll.”

Responding to Sinn Fein’s claim that Mrs May had “no right” to withhold a border poll, Mr Wilson said: “The Belfast Agreement, which Sinn Fein signed up to and quote on a daily basis, gives the PM every right to make that decision.”