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87 Percent of Leave Voters in Northern Ireland Say Delivering Brexit More Important than ‘Peace Process’

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DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty

A large majority of Northern Irish Brexiteers believe delivering Brexit is more important than potentially jeopardising the peace process in the divided province.

‘The Future of England Study’, conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Universities of Cardiff and Edinburgh, discovered that fully 87 percent of Ulster voters who backed Brexit believe an “unravelling of the peace process in Northern Ireland” would be a price worth paying to “take back control” from the European Union, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

“The data suggest that, in the pursuit of Brexit, Leave supporters across the UK would be relaxed about a fundamental transformation of the [British] Union but this attitude is not confined exclusively to Leave voters,” commented Professor Ailsa Henderson, who led the project alongside Professor Richard Wyn Jones.

“There is also evidence that Brexit is dislodging long-held red lines about the Union. If even Unionists in Northern Ireland care less about the territorial integrity of the UK than pursuing Brexit, then it really raises questions about the type of union we’re in, and indeed what Unionism means.”

Northern Ireland has played an outsized role in the Brexit negotiations in the two years which have followed the British public’s vote to Leave the European Union, with the supposedly all-important need to maintain an open border free of customs infrastructure between the province and the Republic of Ireland — which will still be an EU member-state after Britain leaves — looming large in the discussions.

Leaving Northern Ireland in the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union is unacceptable to the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which represents the majority of Northern Irish voters who support the British Union, as it would entail a customs border of sorts “in the Irish Sea” — dividing the province from the British mainland.

Keeping the entire United Kingdom in the Customs Union would prevent this from becoming an issue, but this is considered unacceptable by Brexit supporters, as it would leave the EU with a large degree of control over Britain’s trade policy even after leaving the bloc.

Leading Brexiteer Boris Johnson has suggested that the entire vexed question of the Irish border is being exploited by Remainers who have never come to terms with Brexit, in order to either thwart it or ensure it is delivered in name only.

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery
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