Micheál Martin fires United Ireland warning after Brexit supermajority claim

Ireland’s Tánaiste has fired a warning at the UK after a senior Brexiteer said a future referendum on a united Ireland would require a “super-majority”.

Micheál Martin has warned that UK Government ministers “need to be careful” when discussing future votes on the status of Ireland following comments from Steve Baker, a minister for the Northern Ireland Office.

Mr Baker suggested that any referendum on joining the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland would need a “super-majority” following the UK’s experience with Brexit.

Despite prominently supporting the departure from the EU, the former European Research Group (ERG) chair said a more conclusive result would be needed than what delivered the leave vote in 2016.

In response, Mr Martin has warned officials not to rail against constitutional changes “endorsed by the people of the island”.

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Speaking to BBC News NI today, Mr Martin said people can’t “rewrite agreements on the hoof”.

He added: “You can’t say: ‘Well, you need 60 percent for this or 70 percent for that’ – referendums are referendums.

“These are very fundamental constitutional changes that were endorsed by the people of the island, it’s a very important point – we can’t just casually dismiss that.”

Mr Baker made his super-majority proposal after stating he regretted the Brexit referendum did not require a 60 percent support threshold, with the Leave vote having won by a slim 3.78 percent margin.

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But requiring a super-majority would go against the agreed policy for a future referendum on uniting Ireland.

At present, the requirement is the same as Brexit’s was in 2016, a simple majority of 50 percent plus one.

Mr Baker’s comparison of a future referendum on Ireland with Brexit is not the first in recent months, with a study having found earlier this year that the vote to leave the EU makes Irish unity even more likely.

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Joint research by two of Belfast’s most prestigious universities found in April that a plurality of Northern Irish residents think the home nation will leave the UK within the next two decades.

Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast’s annual Life and Times Survey found that, of 1,405 people surveyed in late 2022, 45 percent believe Northern Ireland will exit the union in 20 years.

Just 38 percent of respondents said they think the country will remain in the UK, with 63 percent believing that Brexit has made unification more like regardless of the time frame.

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