Poll finds most Unionists content to have sea border with Britain

Posted By: November 28, 2017


Distributed by Irish National Caucus

Brendan Hughes. Irish News. Belfast. Tuesday, November  28, 2017

MOST unionists would be content with having a ‘sea border’ between Northern Ireland and Britain after Brexit, a new poll suggests.

Almost 60 percent of unionist voters who were surveyed agreed that people should be prepared to accept controls at the Irish Sea under a deal between the EU and UK.

This was also accepted by almost two-thirds of those who voted Leave in the EU referendum and 54 percent of Protestants.

The DUP did not comment last night on the findings, but UUP leader Robin Swann, below, dismissed the idea of having customs or other controls at the Irish Sea rather than the Irish border as a “complete non-starter.”

“It would be a clear breach of the Belfast Agreement and a challenge to the sovereignty of the United Kingdom and its territorial integrity,” he said.

“The constitutional status of Northern Ireland is not up for negotiation and we will not allow anyone to use the Brexit process to weaken the union.”

At the DUP’s annual conference on Saturday, party leader Arlene Foster also said it will not accept a sea border – and that she had written to the other 27 EU member states setting out this position.

The survey was designed by Queen’s University Belfast professors John Coakley and John Garry, and the results were published on politics blog sluggerotoole.com.

Conducted by Ipsos MORI in September, it involved 1,015 interviews with members of the public, using a sample representative of the north’s population.

People were asked if they agreed or disagreed with two statements relating to the UK leaving the European Union.

The first was: “People should be prepared to accept border controls between Northern Ireland and Great Britain if this is agreed in the Brexit negotiations between the government and the EU.”

Overall, 49 percent agreed, 39 percent disagreed and 12 percent were unsure.

However, 64 percent of Leave voters, 59 percent of unionist party supporters and 54 percent of Protestants said they agreed with the statement.

Support was lower among Remain voters (44 percent said they agreed), nationalist party supporters (47 percent) and Catholics (43 percent).

The second statement was: “After the UK leaves the EU, there should be free movement across the Irish border, as at present, but border controls between the island of Ireland and Great Britain.”

Overall, 64 percent agreed, 25 percent disagreed and 11 percent were undecided.

Among both Leave voters and unionist party supporters, 56 percent agreed, while 60 percent of Protestants agreed.

A total of 73 percent of Remain voters agreed, as well as 75 percent of nationalist party supporters and 68 percent of Catholics.