The majority of British people who voted to withdraw from the EU say they would accept a hard border in Ireland if it meant leaving the customs union.
Two-thirds of Leavers say they would be prepared to impose a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in order to ditch the EU customs union, a poll said.
The survey, carried out by former Conservative Party chairman Lord Ashcroft and published in The Telegraph, found that six out of 10 Leave voters would prefer to leave the EU over keeping the UK together.
Only a third of those surveyed said it would be completely unacceptable for Northern Ireland to have a different status in the EU from the rest of the UK.
A similar number said such a deal would be “tolerable” in order to secure a Brexit deal.
The poll indicates that Leave voters are more relaxed about the sticking point of the Irish border than negotiators.
The EU wants Northern Ireland to remain within its rules to allow easy transport of goods and free movement of people, with border checks at Irish sea crossings.
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But the UK says this is unacceptable and would break up the Union with Northern Ireland.
However, the Ashcroft poll reveals that Leave voters just want the politicians to get on with securing a deal, even it if means a hard Irish border.
Overall, among Leavers and Remainers, 41% are in favour of leaving the customs union even if it means a hard border, with 32% against.
But among Leavers, this rises to 66% for and drops to 10% against.
Among all voters, 63% said delivering Brexit is more important than protecting than Union, compared to 27% who want to keep the UK together first and foremost.
Lord Ashcroft said: “Given this combination of views – impatience with the process, determination for the UK to be able to operate an independent trade policy, and the suspicion that opponents of Brexit are deliberately throwing up hurdles – it is not hard to imagine how Leave voters would react if told the UK would not be taking back as much control as they hoped because of the Irish border, an issue they strongly suspect is being blown out of proportion.
“There is another risk: that a question like the Irish border, which most Leave voters see as a relatively minor practical issue that could surely be resolved, should prevent the majority getting the Brexit they think they voted for.”