One of the problems with the Queens survey Brian highlighted this morning is that the Brexit related questions are couched in hypothetical terms “what if”. That makes them hard to read, and easy to dismiss. Nevertheless, it lances certain popular misassumptions about where we’re going.
The vacuum of the last few years both in Northern Ireland and Westminster has given rise to an enormous amount of hyperbole around the consequences of a hard Brexit, most of it based on political game play, either pushing unrealistic outcomes or plainly catastrophising a deal none of us yet know the outline of.
So it is not entirely surprising that 57% of Leave voters want to retain membership of the Single Market. Despite the loud gulderings of some Brexiteers, that’s not a question any of them were asked in the #EURef.
But it should also be remembered a survey (especially one based on so many hypotheticals) is not a definitive answer either. It indicates there’s an appetite for the least radical form of settlement than the one constantly being hinted at.
The same goes for the figures on the Border poll question, but for an issue that has had so much attention (including here on Slugger) recently, the figures plainly don’t match some of the recent overheated commentary. Nowhere near it in fact.
The timing was awkward for Sinn Fein, some of whom were in London today bigging up the fears of the PM that she might not win a future Border Poll, when in fact the needle sticks at half all Catholics wanting one even in the event of a hard Brexit.
Few in London take much account of such things, even if/when they notice it at all these days. Although, the increased impact of the DUP in Tory circles and Arlene as virtually the only known NI political figure (SF MPs are largely anonymous in Westminster) means unionism’s wider influence in London has never been stronger.
As with Brexit, these secondary readings won’t have the final say. As Brian hints in his title this morning, quality of outcomes from these negotiations will matter. For now the initiative is in the DUP and the Conservative leader.
As for the rest of us, what’s the outworking? One exasperated nationalist friend on FB book noted the other day…
…it’s lazy beyond words, and irresponsible beyond excuse, for people to spend years ‘poll watching’ when that time could and should – must – be spent outlining how life choices would open up rather than close down in a single Irish state.
And by the way, that persumasion campaign will have to invest a not inconsiderable amount of time, resources, and patience towards those in the Republic who see the entire undertaking as more than a little questionable. Less poll-watching, more planning, please.
Here’s my take from a short conversation with James Whale on TalkRadio early this evening…
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty