As the June 23rd Brexit vote fast approaches for UK residents, the potential consequences for the UK and Ireland have been widely debated. We have surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Irish adults to ask them what they think about Brexit.
If Irish people lived in the UK and had a vote in Brexit, 78% would vote to stay within the EU. Obviously the sense of national UK identity and leave side arguments are less salient to an Irish audience, and with 74% feeling that a Brexit would negatively impact Ireland's economy it is hard to divorce our parochial biases when thinking about how we would vote if in the UK.
An interesting question is would we feel differently if Ireland were to have a similar in-out referendum about our membership of the EU. We have had mixed experiences of the EU, from being net positive benefactors of many EU grant schemes (infrastructure and farming), to being arguably forced to take on larger levels of fiscal austerity than we would otherwise have chosen if left to our own devices. In our love hate relationship with the EU, would Ireland in 2016 like to have a chance to reassess our EU membership, and if so how would we vote?
Just 1 in 3 (36%) Irish adults would like to see an Ireland in-out EU referendum to be held, and if such a referendum was held 76% would vote for Ireland to remain part of the EU. Interestingly those aged 35-44 (47%) and C2DE social groupings (44%) are most likely to want to see such a referendum. Although a majority would not like to see Irish Exit referendum, the well documented squeezed middle are certainly less enamoured with the current health of Ireland’s relationship with the EU project.
We will be watching closely to see how Britain casts it vote on 23rd June, and who knows what this may do to raise similar in-out referendum support in Ireland and other EU member states. With Greece (Grexit) and The Netherlands (Nexit) already actively debating if they should have a similar referendum, it is unlikely that Brexit, regardless of the outcome, will be the end of discussions around in-out member state referenda.