British Union Jack flag flies in front of the clock face of Big Ben in London, Britain August 29, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville
LONDON (Reuters) – The United Kingdom might not exist in its current form in a decade’s time, half of its citizens believe, an Ipsos MORI poll found.
The 52-48% vote in 2016 to leave the European Union has strained the bonds that tie England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland into the United Kingdom: Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay while England and Wales voted to leave.
As the United Kingdom heads towards its latest Brexit deadline of Jan. 31, there are growing demands for an independence referendum in Scotland and for a vote on Northern Ireland unifying with the Republic of Ireland.
Scots rejected independence by 55 to 45 percent in a 2014.
The Ipsos Mori poll showed 50% thought the United Kingdom would not exist in 10 years, up from 43% in 2014. Just 29% said it would exist in its current form in a decade, down from 45% in 2014.
In the shorter term, the fate of the union – which traces its history back to the 1707 Treaty of Union – was also uncertain: 42% said the United Kingdom would exist in five years’ time and 44% said it would not.
“The British public are now much more divided in their expectations of the Union’s future than they were in 2014, when the Union’s future was under intense debate with Scotland just three months away from an independence referendum,” said Emily Gray, Managing Director of Ipsos MORI Scotland.
“With independence a key faultline in Scotland’s election debate, the findings will be concerning for those who want Scotland to remain in the Union, while those campaigning for an independent Scotland will hope that this is a continuing trend.”
Ipsos MORI interviewed a sample of 1,001 adults aged 18+ across Britain on Oct. 25-28.
Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Michael Holden