Northern Ireland news

Opinion poll reveals overwhelming cross-community support for protocol's dual market access

There is overwhelming support for Northern Ireland's dual market access. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire

THE DUAL market access provided by the protocol has overwhelming cross-community support, the latest opinion poll reveals.

More than three-quarters of nationalists, unionists and so-called others believe the capacity to trade both in the EU single market and the UK's internal market is "vital to the economy of Northern Ireland".

Opposition to dual market access is close to negligible, the Irish News-Institute of Irish Studies-University of Liverpool survey finds, with those rejecting the much coveted trade regime standing at just 1.9 per cent. Around 11.4 per cent of all voters neither agree or disagree.

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When unveiling the Windsor Framework last month, British Prime MInister Rishi Sunak said the new Brexit deal put Northern Ireland in a "unbelievably special position".

He said the region's access to both the EU and UK markets made it the "world’s most exciting economic zone".

However, concerns have been voiced in recent weeks by supporters of the protocol that the so-called Stormont Brake mechanism contained in the framework may jeopardise dual market access. The potential for a minority of MLAs to veto new EU laws being introduced in the north could mean goods manufactured in the region would not comply with single market standards.

Yet support for dual market access among all respondents stands at 83.5 per cent, with nearly three-quarters of DUP supporters (74.9 per cent) and 94.1 per cent of their Ulster Unionist counterparts supporting it.

Even supporters of the TUV, the most pro-Brexit and anti-protocol of all the north's parties, see benefits in having dual access, with more than half its voters (56.3 per cent) believing it is "vital" to the regional economy, whereas 16.7 per cent disagree.

Overall unionist support for dual market access is 78.6 per cent, an increase of 6.6 percentage points since the corresponding survey last July.

Nationalists are by far the greatest supporters of the north's bespoke trading provisions, with 85.3 per cent of Sinn Féin voters surveyed backing the arrangements and 94 per cent of SDLP voters doing similar.

Alliance supporters are also strong advocates of dual access, with 86.3 per cent backing what has been termed the 'best of both worlds'.

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