Northern Ireland would vote overwhelmingly in favour of remaining in the EU if a second referendum was held, a survey has found. The is an intense opposition to hard border, according to data, as backing for leave falls 13 points.
In 2016, the region voted 56% to remain and 44% to leave, but support for leaving the bloc has fallen 13 points to 31%, undermining the Democratic Unionist party’s continued staunch backing for Brexit.
“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,” said Brendan O’Leary, a professor of political science at Queen’s University Belfast.
The survey also showed significant levels of support for illegal or extreme protests against any north-south border checks, particularly among Catholics, who dominate the border communities.
The survey commissioned by researchers at Queen’s and funded by the UK in a Changing Europe thinktank, found that two years after the referendum support for remain had risen to 69% and leave had dropped to 31%.
Accompanying research interviews on attitudes in Northern Ireland found “a substantial and intense opposition” to border checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and to checks in airports and ports between Northern Ireland and Britain.
In the most comprehensive piece of research on attitudes to Brexit to date, it also found that there were strong expectations that north-south and east-west checks would attract protests that could “quickly deteriorate into violence”.
There was “substantial” support for Northern Ireland staying in the customs union and the single market, something to which the DUP is implacably opposed. [...]
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