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MLAs’ views on Brexit

Cameron Stocker Consultant 17/01/2022

The Northern Ireland Protocol has come to the forefront of the news agenda once again as Foreign Secretary Liz Truss aims to ‘reset’ UK-EU talks. This creates further uncertainty in Northern Ireland, with no clear end in sight.

MLAs have been asked whether they believe the most difficult period of the Brexit process is now over

In 2020, Savanta ComRes asked Northern Irish Members of the Assembly, the devolved legislators, their thoughts of Brexit and the impact it had on their constituents. As this issue still rages and no clear path has become apparent, Savanta ComRes decided once again to ask their thoughts using our in-house panel of MLAs.

In 2020, one in three (34%) MLAs believed that Brexit would harm the peace in Northern Ireland. Worryingly, this has now increased to half (51%) the Assembly believing peace in the nation will be harmed. The largest rise in worry comes from MLAs based in and around Belfast, where one in twenty (6%) believed peace would be harmed by Brexit in 2020, this has now jumped to two in five (42%) MLAs.

In 2020, half (52%) of MLAs believed that Brexit would damage Northern Ireland’s relationship with other nations in the UK. This feeling does not appear to have changed much, as half (48%) the Assembly still believes relationships will be damaged. What has changed however, is the number of MLAs that disagree Northern Ireland’s relationships with other UK nations will be harmed, going from one in four (27%) to two in five (42%).

Just over half (54%) of MLAs believe a ‘Brexit border’ between Northern Ireland and Great Britain is more preferable than a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, a slight increase than the half (51%) in 2020. There is stark difference in opinion on the matter, depending on whether the MLA is Unionist or Nationalist. Nine in ten (92%) Nationalists, those that would like to unite Northern Ireland and the Republic, would prefer to see a ‘border’ between NI and the rest of the UK. On the other footing, nine in ten (90%) Unionists disagree, opting for a stronger relationship with Great Britain than their southern neighbour.

One in three (31%) MLAs believe Brexit is a good thing for their constituents, a slight rise to the one in four (27%) that responded positively in 2020. In 2020, seven in ten (68%) disagreed that Brexit was a good thing; however, this disagreement has now dropped to half (54%) the Assembly, showing a slight change in opinion now time has passed.

Finally, MLAs have been asked whether they believe the most difficult period of the Brexit process is now over. With Truss hitting ‘reset’ on UK-EU talks regarding the Northern Ireland protocol, it does not appear to have garnered much confidence. One in four (27%) MLAs believe the hardest part is over, but a staggering seven in ten (68%) MLAs believe the hardest part of Brexit is yet to come for Northern Ireland.

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