By Faha

LucidTalk released a NI”Tracker”Poll on December 5th. The polling was conducted from November 30th through December 3rd.

The questions covered the UK governments EU withdrawal agreement as well as questions on a Border Poll with 3 different scenarios.ticking Clock

A total of 1,335 respondents were included.

The raw totals showed an under-representation from the Nationalist community and an overrepresentation from the Neutral community (in respect to constitutional position) so a weighted adjustment was done.

The raw total from the Unionist community was fine and did not need to be adjusted. The weighted percentages by constitutional position were:

Unionist         47.3%

Nationalist     45.5%

Neutral              7.1%

These are self-identifying positions and religion background was not included.

In one scenario voters were given 5 options on the UK governments EU withdrawal agreement if there was a referendum on the current options (“People’s Vote”).One option was for the UK to remain in the EU and the results by constitutional position were:

Nationalist       Neutral        Unionist

#1 Remain in EU                           90%                 78%               21%

#2 Leave-No Deal                            2%                   4%               40%

#3 Leave-Better Deal

More distant from EU                    1%                   2%                26%

#4 Leave-Current deal                    4%                  6%                   7%

#5 Leave-Closer to

EU than current deal               1%              5%             2%

 

In another scenario only 3 options were presented.

Nationalist       Neutral        Unionist

#1 Remain in EU                           94%               81%              29%

#2 Leave-No Deal                            4%                 6%               44%

#3 Leave-Better Deal

More distant from EU                    2%                12%              27%

 

Finally, a scenario was presented with only 2 options.

 

Nationalist       Neutral        Unionist

#1 Remain in EU                          95%                87%               31%

#2 Leave-No Deal                            5%               13%               69%

 

 

Voters from the nationalist community overwhelmingly wish for the UK to Remain in the EU.

There is a low level of support among voters in the unionist community (21%) for the UK to Remain in the EU. Indeed, 2/3 of voters from the unionist community prefer a No Deal Brexit or a Hard Brexit.

Those voters from the Neutral community are almost as much in favour of Remaining in the EU as those from the nationalist community.

What is interesting is that if there is only an option of Remaining in the EU or Leave the EU with No Deal almost 70% of those from the unionist community prefer a No Deal Brexit.

Now you should understand that the poll is referring to those who identify as belonging to the unionist community.

There are significant percentages of voters from both the nationalist and unionist communities that vote for nonsectarian parties and those voters are very unlikely to prefer a No Deal Brexit.

I estimate, based on other recent polls, that if the cross tabs were available in this poll, that up to 80% of voters from the unionist community that VOTE for Unionist parties prefer a No Deal Brexit over Remaining in the EU if those are the only 2 options.

The DUP are criticized for not representing the views of the people of Northern Ireland. However, they do represent the views of their own voters.

There were a question asked on a Border Poll with 3 scenarios. One was a scenario in which there is no Brexit and the UK remains within the EU.

 

United Ireland   NI Remain in UK    Undecided

Total                         29%                  60%                    11%

Nationalist               62%                  22%                    14%

Unionist                     0%                   97%                      3%

Neutral                       2%                   58%                    40%

Of the total 11% Undecided only 1% are from the unionist community.

Nevertheless, even if most of those undecideds from the nationalist and neutral communities voted for a United Ireland there would be over 60% of voters who would vote to remain in the UK. These views are basically identical to polls from 15 to 20 years ago.

Another scenario asked voters how they would vote if a Brexit occurred with the UK governments’ current EU withdrawal agreement.

 

United Ireland   NI Remain in UK    Undecided

Total                         48%                  48%                     4%

Nationalist               92%                   5%                      3%

Unionist                     3%                   92%                     5%

Neutral                     54%                  29%                    17%

Under the proposed current EU withdrawal agreement there are equal number of voters who prefer a United Ireland or to Remain in the UK. The current EU agreement is basically a very soft Brexit.

You will notice that there is a dramatic shift in those voters from the Neutral community with Brexit and support for a United Ireland increasing from 2% to 54%.

In an actual Border Poll a United Ireland vote would have a slight majority since 16 and 17 year olds are not included in this poll.

Also there are very few foreign nationals included in the poll, an electorate that strongly favours staying in the EU.

Another scenario asked voters how they would vote if the UK governments EU withdrawal agreement was defeated in the UK parliament and no deal was negotiated with the EU.

United Ireland   NI Remain in UK    Undecided

Total                        55%                  42%                      3%

Nationalist              98%                   0%                       2%

Unionist                  11%                  86%                       3%

Neutral                    70%                  14%                     16%

Clearly, under a No Deal scenario there would be a substantial majority in favour of a United Ireland.

After accounting for the Undecided the vote would be approximately 56% for a United Ireland and 44% against.

You will notice that these results are identical to the EU referendum results so the vote in favour of a United Ireland is basically determined by Brexit preferences.

Some may be skeptical that 11% of voters from the unionist community would vote for a United Ireland. However, the majority of that 11% are voters from the unionist community that vote for Alliance, Green, SDLP or independents.

Voters from the unionist community that VOTE for unionist parties are likely less than 5% of voters who vote for unionist parties and who would vote for a United Ireland in a No Deal scenario.

I would also note that these polls only include 1% of their respondents from the ethnic national population of Northern Ireland. Currently ethnic nationals are 5% of the registered voters and 9% of the voting age population. EU nationals will be overwhelmingly in favour of Remaining in the EU. They were permitted to vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum.

Those age 16 and 17 should also be allowed to vote in a Border Poll as they were in the Scottish Independence Referendum. Taking these extra voters into account a United Ireland Vote would be 60% in favour of a United Ireland with a 100% turnout of voters in a No Deal scenario and 54% in favour of a United Ireland if the current EU agreement passed in Westminster.

There is a similar trend in Scotland. Panelbase did a recent poll for the Sunday Times among Scottish voters. Only 47% are in favour of an Independent Scotland. This increases to 53% if the current EU agreement is passed. It increase to 59% in a No Deal scenario. The latter two are basically identical to Northern Ireland preferences in the same scenarios.

At this time all political parties in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland should be demanding a Border Poll if Brexit occurs in late March 2019.

According to the Good Friday Agreement and St. Andrews Agreement the British government may schedule a Border Poll if it appears that a majority of voters in Northern Ireland would favour reunification with the Republic of Ireland.

All opinion polls in the previous 6 months indicate that this is the true if Brexit occurs.

When should a Border Poll be held?

I believe that it should be scheduled for June and no later than October.

The reason is that businesses in Northern Ireland that trade with EU nations need to know if their trade in goods and services with EU nations will be affected in a detrimental manner as soon as possible. Businesses often operate on narrow profit margins. After 2 or 3 months some of these companies in Northern Ireland could be unprofitable and need to make a decision to relocate to Ireland or other EU nations in order to have access to their EU markets. They cannot wait for a Border Poll that could be held 10, 5 or even 1 years after Brexit.

Already some Northern Ireland companies have indicated that they will need to move their operations to the Republic of Ireland in order to have access to the EU market.

It is unlikely that the Conservative government would agree to a Border Poll.

Their coalition partner, the DUP, is strongly opposed to one. One of the provisions of the Good Friday and St. Andrews agreement is that the Northern Ireland Secretary is required to call another election if no government if formed in Northern Ireland within 30 days of an Assembly election.

The last Assembly election was held in March 2017 and the deadline for the Northern Ireland Secretary to call an election is almost 2 years overdue.

The point is that the British government will ignore the provisions of the Good Friday and St. Andrews agreement and will refuse to schedule a Border Poll.

However, behind the scenes pressure can be applied to the British government by the EU nations to schedule a Border Poll after Brexit.

Any future concessions by the EU in negotiations with the British government should be contingent on the timely scheduling of a Border Poll.

 

 

 

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