Brexit: NI survey shows support for single market

Union Jack and European Union flagImage source, Yui Mok
Image caption,
Of those surveyed in NI, 69% said they would now vote to remain in the EU

A new survey suggests that people in Northern Ireland want to stay within the European Union's single market and customs union.

Researchers at Queens University Belfast carried out the project.

It provides in-depth analysis into public attitudes within Northern Ireland towards the UK's exit from the EU.

The project surveyed more than 1,000 people and was funded by 'The UK in a Changing Europe'.

According to the information gathered, there was "substantial support" for a form of Brexit that would "largely eliminate the need for any north-south or east-west border checks, namely for the UK as a whole to remain in the customs union and single market".

The survey also suggests that in the event of a possible border poll, 50% of people would support the idea of remaining part of the UK, with only 21% of people saying they would vote for Irish unity.

All in all, the report showed that 61% of those surveyed claim to be in favour of the UK remaining part of the single market and customs union, with an average of 61% of Catholics and 62% of Protestants holding this view.

Barriers on Borders

John Garry, a professor at Queens University, said: "We find Catholics and Protestants most prefer the option that would avoid the need for any new barriers on borders.

"Either in the Irish Sea or across Ireland."

Further information showed that if a "hard exit" was to occur, where the UK would leave the customs union and the single market, Catholics would be far more likely to support the idea of a united Ireland.

More than 50% of Catholics surveyed said they would vote for a united Ireland in the case of a "hard" Brexit and 28% of Catholics surveyed said they would vote for a united Ireland if the UK reversed its decision and remained part of the EU.

Brendan O'Leary, a visiting professor at Queens University and a key researcher for the survey, highlighted the change in attitudes within Northern Ireland towards Brexit since the 2016 referendum.

He said: "Our results show that if there was another referendum, people in Northern Ireland would vote more strongly to remain in the EU.

"The proportion wanting to remain has risen since the 2016 referendum as more people have become aware of the possible costs and inconveniences of leaving the EU, as citizens and as employees or employers."

The survey suggests that 69% of people in Northern Ireland would now vote to remain in the EU, a 13% increase on the 56% who voted to remain in 2016.