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Editor's Viewpoint

Scotland may pave way for NI border poll



First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (Andy Buchanan/PA)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (Andy Buchanan/PA)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (Andy Buchanan/PA)

More than four in 10 people here believe Scottish independence would hasten a referendum on Irish reunification, according to a new survey.

Polling carried out by Focaldata for the anti-extremism group Hope Not Hate found that only a third believed it would make a border poll less likely.

Elections to the Scottish parliament in May had been confidently predicted to return a majority Scottish National Party government with a clear mandate for a second referendum.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is not without problems of her own this weekend, with the expected publication next week of an official report into her government's handling of sexual harassment allegations against her predecessor, Alex Salmond.

The Hope Not Hate poll also found opinion in Northern Ireland divided on whether Brexit makes a united Ireland more likely, with 44% believing it does, while 18% think it less likely and 26% say it will make no difference.

Given our shambolic introduction to life outside the EU, perhaps unionists should encourage the calling of a border poll on the principle of be careful what you wish for.

Clearly, Scottish independence would leave the Union a significantly smaller entity and, arguably, Northern Ireland's role in it would be diminished accordingly.

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But focus on events at Holyrood is likely to lead us up the wrong path.

There has never been a settled view of what a united Ireland would look like - much less one capable of being codified for the purposes of a plebiscite.

Moreover, only the Secretary of State currently has the power to order a border poll and he or she will be in no rush to call one based on a will-o'-the-wisp.

If even the "father of Northern Ireland", Sir Edward Carson's prediction that the state would only last 50 years is currently wrong by a factor of 100%, it suggests we'll still be having the same, circular arguments in another 100 years' time.

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