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Survey shows Brexit vote has undermined support for the United Kingdom’s union

Creator : John Curtice, Senior Analysis Fellow, Nationwide Centre for Social Analysis, and Professor of Politics, College of Strathclyde

King Charles’s resolution to go to all 4 corners of the UK within the first week of his reign has highlighted the truth that query marks grasp over the way forward for the union.

The argument concerning the Northern Eire Protocol displays, partially, concern inside each the UK authorities and the unionist group that the introduction of checks on items between Nice Britain and Northern Eire (and the absence of any such checks between the North and the Republic) will weaken the hyperlinks between them.

In the meantime, with polls in Scotland suggesting nearly 50% help for leaving the UK, the Scottish authorities is pushing for a second referendum on independence.

Northern Eire and Scotland had been, after all, the 2 components of the UK the place a majority voted to remain within the EU. And a chapter within the newest British Social Attitudes report printed by the Nationwide Centre for Social Analysis (NatCen) reveals how, because the 2016 poll, attitudes in direction of Brexit have come more and more to color attitudes in direction of the union throughout the UK.


When the Brexit referendum was held in 2016, how individuals in Scotland voted bore no relationship to their angle in direction of Scotland’s constitutional standing. In keeping with the Scottish Social Attitudes (SSA) survey of that yr, when introduced with the selection between independence, devolution or no Scottish parliament in any respect, 44% of those that voted Stay had been in favour of independence, as had been 45% of those that voted Go away.

Although the SNP’s imaginative and prescient of independence is one among “independence in Europe”, voters themselves didn’t essentially see the hyperlink between the 2 debates.

Now, nonetheless, the 2 points are intertwined. In the newest SSA, almost two-thirds of Stay supporters say that they help independence. Simply 22% of Go away supporters take the identical view.

Given the predominance of Stay supporters north of the border, this divergence of views helps clarify why, at 52%, the general stage of help for independence within the newest SSA survey is six factors up on what it was in 2016 – a pattern that mirrors the opinion polls.

Northern Eire

A lot the identical course of has occurred in Northern Eire. In keeping with the Northern Eire Life and Occasions survey, again in 2016 a majority of those that voted Stay (64%) and those that voted Go away (83%) had been in favour of Northern Eire being a part of the UK.

At 82% within the newest survey, the extent of help for the union amongst those that establish as a Leaver has held regular. Nevertheless, amongst Remainers the place could be very completely different. Simply 37% now say that Northern Eire ought to be a part of the UK, whereas barely over half (52%) really feel that Northern Eire ought to both unify with the Republic (44%) or turn into an unbiased state (8%).

King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla on a visit to Northern Ireland.
King Charles visited Northern Eire nearly instantly after the loss of life of his mom.

It’s this motion amongst Remainers that helps clarify why, throughout Northern Eire as an entire, help for being a part of the union has slipped from two-thirds (66%) in 2016 to simply beneath half (49%) now. In the meantime, help for unification has elevated over the identical interval by eleven factors, from 19% to 30%.


Brexit has additionally turn into a line of division when English persons are requested about Scotland. In keeping with the British Social Attitudes survey, help for Scottish independence amongst Stay supporters in England stands now at 35%, whereas solely 19% of those that again Go away take the identical view.

In distinction, in 2017 it was Go away supporters (27%) quite than their Stay counterparts (21%) who had been extra inclined to say Scotland ought to turn into unbiased. Nevertheless, as a result of Stay and Go away supporters have moved in reverse instructions, at 25% the general stage of help for Scottish independence in England is simply barely up on the 22% who expressed that view in 2017.

Stay and Go away supporters throughout Britain as an entire even have quite completely different views on the standing of Northern Eire. Amongst those that again Go away as many as 62% assume that Northern Eire ought to stay a part of the UK, whereas simply 32% imagine it ought to reunify with the Republic of Eire.

In distinction, amongst Stay supporters the steadiness of opinion is tilted considerably in the wrong way, with 48% backing reunification and solely 41% saying that Northern Eire ought to stay a part of the UK.

The present UK authorities faces a dilemma over the way forward for the union. The Brexit coverage it has carried out has instigated a diminution in public help for a union that it needs to protect.

Those that want to turn into a part of a unique union (the EU) have turn into extra inclined to query the deserves of the union represented by the UK. Whether it is to strengthen public help for the Union sooner or later, it seems as if the UK authorities should persuade Remainers that exiting the EU has certainly been worthwhile.


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