Slight Majority Of NI Voters Back United Ireland

Just over half of people in Northern Ireland would vote for Irish unification, according to a new survey.

The poll, published by Lord Ashcroft, found that 45% of people would want to stay in the UK, while 46% would choose to leave and join the Republic of Ireland.

This represents a lead of 51% to 49% for unification when those who said they don't know and would not vote are excluded.

Lord Ashcroft, an international businessman, philanthropist, author and pollster, said the result underlines what may be at stake in the quest for a workable Brexit solution on the island of Ireland.

One in every 20 subjects who identify as Unionist said they would opt for unification, while a further 6% said they don't know how they would vote.

The over-65s were the only age group with a clear majority for staying in the union, 62% to 38% when excluding those who were unsure of how they would vote.

Providing his analyses to the results, Lord Ashcroft said: "Such a result might also reflect the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding Brexit, the Irish border and its potential effect on life in the province, which could recede when the outcome is settled."

While only eight per cent of unionists said they thought such a border poll should take place within the next decade, one in three of them thought it was likely to happen within this timescale – as did nine in ten nationalists.

A majority think that in a referendum tomorrow, Northern Ireland would, in fact, choose to remain part of the UK. But when we asked what the outcome would be in ten years' time, the result was reversed, with most believing the vote would be for unification and only three in ten believing voters would choose the UK.

Almost half of voters said they feel less closer to the rest of the UK than they did five years ago. A majority of nationalists expressed this view, including 70% of those who voted to remain in the EU.

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