A major question hangs over the future of Stormont with almost two-thirds of unionist voters saying the DUP should quit the Executive if there isn’t progress on “scrapping” the protocol.
The results indicate that the issue remains hugely important to unionists. Asked for their view of DUP tactics on the protocol, 63% believe the party should be prepared to crash the institutions over it.
Some 43% believe the DUP should “immediately withdraw” from the Executive because there hasn’t been enough progress in binning it.
Another 15% favour leaving “sometime over the next two/three months” if no progress is made in removing the protocol, while 5% think the DUP should quit Stormont for the same reason after May’s election.
There is a significant divergence of opinion between the supporters of each of the unionist parties on the issue.
Some 98% of TUV voters want Sir Jeffrey Donaldson to take his party out of Stormont over the protocol compared to 81% of DUP supporters and just 28% of Ulster Unionists.
Some 90% of TUV voters want the institutions crashed immediately compared to 57% of DUP supporters.
Almost a fifth (19%) of those backing Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s party support bringing down Stormont in the next few months and 5% after the Assembly election if there isn’t movement towards scrapping the protocol.
But 17% of DUP voters are against collapsing devolution – 10% want rid of the protocol but think their party must remain in Stormont and oppose it by other means.
Five per cent believe that – while imperfect – the protocol is workable and the DUP should negotiate adjustments, and 2% support it.
Among UUP voters, 11% want the DUP to leave Stormont immediately over the protocol; 9% if there isn’t progress to removing it within the next few months; and eight per cent after May’s election.
Almost a quarter believe the DUP must find a way other than collapsing the institutions to remove the protocol, and the largest group (45%) of those supporting Doug Beattie’s party think the protocol can be made workable by negotiating amendments
There is overwhelming support for the protocol among nationalists but 55% of them still say it needs adjustments while 39% say there are no problems with it.
Among the general voting public, 36% believe the protocol is wrong in principle and should be binned while 10% describe it as “too much of a burden” and say it needs serious reform.
Just over a third of people (34%) believe it needs “some adjustments” while 18% say there are no problems with the protocol as it currently stands.