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Brexit: Unionists and nationalists deeply split on idea of second referendum

By Suzanne Breen

Unionists and nationalists are deeply divided on whether there should be a second Brexit referendum.

A LucidTalk poll published yesterday shows 70% of unionists against another vote on leaving the EU whereas 77% of nationalists want one.

Just over a quarter (27%) of unionists believe there should be a second referendum and 14% of nationalists oppose one.

Some 1,483 people making up a representative sample of the Northern Ireland population took part in the poll, which was conducted last week.

A total of 52% said there should be a second vote, with 43% against.

Those taking part were asked how they would vote if two options were on the ballot paper - Brexit on the terms of Theresa May's withdrawal agreement or a no-deal. Almost half (48%) chose the Prime Minister's plan, 37% a no-deal Brexit. Almost one in 10 said they wouldn't vote or would spoil their vote.

Mrs May's deal was more popular with 18 to 24-year-olds (51%) and 25 to 44-year-olds (56%), whereas just over four in 10 of those over 45 supported it.

A no-deal Brexit was most popular with the over-65s (46%) and 45 to 64-year-olds (43%), whereas just over a quarter of under-45s backed it.

The Prime Minister's plan was most popular with Catholics, with almost three-quarters (73%) choosing it and one in 10 opting for a no-deal.

But only a quarter of Protestants were behind the deal, with almost two-thirds backing a no-deal Brexit.

Support for the withdrawal agreement was most popular with wealthier people - 53% of ABC1s (middle class) supported it, with a third of them choosing a no-deal. Those less well off were evenly split, with 42% behind the Prime Minister's plan but 41% believing the UK should leave without a deal.

Participants were then asked how they would vote if the two options on the ballot paper were remaining in the EU or leaving on the terms of Mrs May's deal.

A total of 58% said they would vote to stay, with just 17% choosing the Prime Minister's plan and one in five saying they would spoil their vote or wouldn't vote.

Remain was far more popular with Catholics (83%) than Protestants (34%), and almost one in three Protestants were likely to spoil their vote or not vote if only Remain or Mrs May's deal was on the ballot paper.

Those taking part were then asked how they would vote if there was a straight choice of remaining in the EU or leaving without a deal.

A total of 57% said they would vote to stay, with 38% opting to leave with no-deal. Two-thirds of unionists would choose to depart with a no-deal, whereas only 6% of nationalists would.

Under a third (29%) of unionists would back remaining and 6% of nationalists would vote to leave without a deal.

The number of people spoiling their vote, not voting or unsure about what to do was lower (5%) when no-deal was on the table.

Some 60% of people believe that Brexit makes a united Ireland more likely in the next decade, with 10% saying it was less likely and a quarter believing Brexit would have no impact.

Nationalists were much more likely to believe Irish unity was likely (94%) with a third of unionists agreeing - 17% of unionists believe a united Ireland is now less likely and 43% say Brexit will have no impact.

Bill White of LucidTalk said: "Until last September there was no real change in people's position here on Brexit since the 2016 referendum. Since then, we have seen a 4-5% increase for Remain and this poll has reinforced that again."

Mr White said unionists were more divided than nationalists over Brexit, with a sizeable minority supporting Remain.

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