According to a new opinion poll, support for the protocol is growing in Northern Ireland, with a clear majority of voters finding it appropriate to deal with the impact of Brexit on the north side of the island. About 55% of respondents believe the protocol is an appropriate adjustment – an increase of 8% over the previous year – and 38% disagree.
Three-quarters of respondents want a compromise through negotiations on protocol issues between the UK and the EU, while 57% said there was no reason for the UK government to take unilateral action to remove certain parts. The Lucid Talk poll for Queen’s University Belfast shows that 55% of voters think Brussels should retaliate if London acts unilaterally.
55% of respondents believe that the protocol will have a positive impact on the economy of Northern Ireland, and 65% believe that it offers unique opportunities. While the best comments are related to the economic benefits of the protocol, the biggest concerns are related to its political implications – 59% of voters believe it will adversely affect political stability here and the relationship between the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
Six out of ten do not think Brexit is a “good thing” for the UK. Half of the voters are in favor of the Protocol Good Friday Agreement, while 38% believe it will adversely affect the historic peace agreement.
Approximately 46% of voters believe that the protocol will destroy the constitutional position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. One-third (36%) were not concerned about the scope and functional impact of the protocol.
Customs declarations for parcels (55%) followed by restrictions on the import of plants, seeds, frozen meats and livestock imports from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. Of least concern is the application of EU law on Northern Ireland’s deployment, subsidies and state aid regulation with Brussels standards for the production of goods.
One-third (35%) said the British food products they buy were no longer available where they normally shop, but 41% said they did not. A quarter (26%) said their national identity – British or Irish – was reflected in the food products they chose to buy, while 54% said the opposite.
Only one in ten said they would pay more for a British product than to buy a product made elsewhere, but almost three-quarters (72%) disagreed. Eight out of ten said that because everything else is the same, they would rather buy a product made in Northern Ireland than anywhere else.
The survey was conducted from June 3 to 6 with 1497 participants. It has been scientifically weighed to reflect voters. This is the fifth survey conducted for Queens as part of a three – year (2021-2023) research project funded.Economic and Social Research Council.
This showed that the protocol continues to divide opinion deeply, with only a small proportion of those polled not commenting on it. The government led by Boris Johnson has the least confidence in the key players in the current controversy.
84% of respondents do not believe this and only 5% say they believe in London. Voters are slightly more likely to believe (47%) than European Commission / EU no-confidence (43%). They are a little more likely to trust the Irish government (42%) than to disbelieve (45%).
Confidence in the executive to deal with Northern Ireland’s interests in relation to protocol is surprisingly low (19%). It is the most trusted regional political party alliance (50%), followed by the SDLP (43%). Distrust was highest for DUP (68%) and Sinn Fein (50%).
Protocol was important to a majority of voters in the May Assembly elections, although a quarter said the position of a candidate did not affect their choice. Approximately 52% of MPs polled voted in favor of the protocol continuing application, while 40% of Stomont representatives wanted to oppose it.
Professor David Finnmore, a leading researcher on the project from Queen’s University, said: Many voters in Northern Ireland continue to vote to abide by the protocol: It is clear that many voters in Northern Ireland remain genuinely concerned about the consequences of the full implementation of the protocol. Yet this latest poll shows that support for the protocol continues to grow, with nearly two-thirds of those polled seeing it as an economic opportunity. It is clear that the problems between the UK and the EU will be resolved through an agreement, which voters prefer, and not a unilateral move by the UK government. ⁇
Photo Credit: DR
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