Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Brexit poll results are food for thought

Editor's Viewpoint

More than two years after the UK voted to leave the EU, the terms of Brexit are no clearer now than then. As the Prime Minister attempts to finalise a deal, a survey conducted for BBC NI and RTE shows that a majority in Northern Ireland remains concerned about what a divorce from the EU would mean for them.

The major sticking point on the negotiations between the UK and the EU is how to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic after Brexit.

According to the poll, this is something which seriously concerns people in both jurisdictions, with clear majorities in both saying that the UK should not proceed with Brexit if it means a hard border.

In Northern Ireland, 61% said Brexit should be halted if there is a hard border, with 36% saying it should proceed. In the Republic opinion was even stronger in favour of stopping Brexit in those circumstances, with 83% agreeing and only 10% disagreeing.

A by-product of the toxic debate on Brexit in Northern Ireland is the concern that more people in the north would vote for a united Ireland if it goes ahead. On this question there was an interesting divergence in opinion north and south of the border. In Northern Ireland 62% felt Brexit made a united Ireland a more likely possibility, but only 35% of those polled in the Republic agreed. Large percentages - 24% here and 22% in the Republic - said it would not make any difference to a border poll.

A majority in Northern Ireland (55%) felt their financial position would worsen in the event of Brexit, with only 9% believing they would be better off. Again, a big percentage (29%) said leaving the EU would make no difference.

In the Republic 34% felt they would be worse off, 2% believed they would be better off and 44% said leaving would have no effect on them.

Another topic which continues to be aired in relation to Brexit is that there should be a second referendum once the deal is made. That struck a chord with those polled on both sides of the border.

In Northern Ireland 58% agreed with a second referendum with 38% against, while in the Republic a whopping 77% said yes to this question with 14% disagreeing.

The poll confirms opposition across the island to Brexit remains strong, but as the UK as a whole voted to leave, the emphasis remains on getting the best deal possible, not reversing the vote.

Belfast Telegraph

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