London (AFP) – A growing number of people in Northern Ireland support their province joining the Republic of Ireland because of concerns over the implications of Brexit, a survey published on Friday showed.
The BBC poll showed 42.1 percent in the British province would vote for Irish unification if there was a referendum, while 45 percent would vote to remain a part of the United Kingdom.
Some 12.7 percent said they were undecided or would not vote.
The phone and online survey of 1,336 people across Northern Ireland was conducted by polling firm Lucid Talk in May.
The survey also found that 28 percent of respondents who previously wanted Northern Ireland to remain a part of Britain had changed their mind and now wanted to join with Ireland following the 2016 Brexit referendum.
Just 0.85 percent responded that they had previously wanted Northern Ireland to join Ireland and now wanted to remain British.
The future of the border between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit is one of the most hotly contested issues in the negotiations, with many on both sides of the border wanting to keep the current free-flowing frontier open.
A study released by Queen’s University Belfast released last month found that only 21 percent of respondents favoured a united Ireland.
In the 2016 referendum, Northern Ireland voted 56 percent to remain in the EU but, like Scotland, was outvoted by England and Wales and the overall result was 52 percent for Brexit.
As the prospect of border controls has appeared increasingly likely, support in Northern Ireland for staying in the EU has risen.
The 1998 Good Friday peace agreements allow for the possibility of a referendum on Irish unity if the British government judges that the public mood has shifted significantly in favour of the idea.
So far only the nationalist Sinn Fein party, once the political voice of the Irish Republican Army, has called for a vote.