This article was updated at 10.26 on 10 June. It previously stated that the Conservative government would lose its majority should Northern Ireland vote for unification. It’s now been updated to reflect the fact that the government would lose its “confidence and supply” agreement with the DUP in those circumstances, which currently gives it a majority in parliament. The concluding sentence has also been edited to reflect this.
A new opinion poll reveals that support for a united Ireland in Northern Ireland has jumped to a shock 42.1%. If this upward trend continues and eventually leads to a united Ireland, the British government could collapse.
Confidence and supply
Theresa May’s Conservative party relies on Northern Ireland’s DUP to govern, having reached a so-called “confidence and supply” agreement. It has also been called a “cash-for-votes” deal. It sees the DUP voting in favour of government on key votes in parliament. In return, the government has promised £1bn of extra funding to Northern Ireland.
The agreement gives May’s party a small majority in parliament. But in the event of a united Ireland, the DUP would no longer sit in the House of Commons. Without its support, the Conservative party would lose its DUP deal, which could trigger a general election.
28% of respondents to the opinion poll said that they are now more likely to support a united Ireland because of Brexit. Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU by a majority of 56%. And since the vote, the government’s management of the Irish border issue has provoked discontent.
People in Northern Ireland are anxious about the threat of a hard border. Some industries have called it a “huge concern”. But the government’s solutions often appear flawed. Even foreign secretary Boris Johnson described his own government’s approach as “beyond belief“.
The Good Friday Agreement
The Good Friday Agreement allows for a referendum on Irish reunification. It stipulates that Irish reunification can take place:
with and subject to the agreement and consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland.
And if Ireland reunites, the Conservative government as it stands could be in jeopardy.
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Featured image via Annika Haas