BREXIT has led to a surge in support for a united Ireland among people in the Irish Republic, a poll has found.

Excluding undecideds some 60 per cent of those surveyed in the 26 counties before Christmas said they would vote for the country to be re-unified even when they were told it would cost the Irish government €9 billion per annum.

The figure reflected a 10 per cent rise in support for a united Ireland since March when researchers posed the question and echoes results of polls carried out following a row between the UK and Irish Governments over the prospect of retaining an open border on the island in the event of a hard Brexit.

Dr Kevin Cunningham, managing director of polling company Ireland Thinks, which conducted the research for the Irish Daily Mail, said Brexit had radically changed the debate about a united Ireland on both sides of the Border.

He pointed to recent polls which also revealed dramatic increases in support for a united Ireland north of the border as well as a majority preferring a border poll within the next ten years.

“Unification is of course conditional on Ireland accepting Northern Ireland. In this context it is crucial for Ireland to accept some of the initial costs of such a unification,” he wrote.

“That is Ireland’s ability and willingness to replace the annual subvention received by Northern Ireland. The fiery Brexit negotiations appear to have galvanised support for a united Ireland in (the Republic of) Ireland. The change since March reflects a decline in the number of people that are undecided on the issue.”

Cunningham added: “Polling on the topic of a united Ireland has typically taken one of two forms: Whether one supports a united Ireland (without conditions) and whether one would vote for a united Ireland if it led to an increase in taxation.

“The July 2016 RedC poll suggested support for a united Ireland was at 65 per cent. Such a majority is consistent and typical.”

He noted how this question is supplemented with a question on whether one would support a united Ireland if it meant “paying more tax” – a situation in which the majority disappears.

However, he went on to say that the latest poll of 1144 adults, which was carried out between December 14 and 22 had shown that the majority in favour of re-unification remained even when people were told that the Irish government would have to pay £9bn a year.

Earlier this month a survey of people in Northern Ireland showed they would prefer to join a united Ireland and maintain their EU membership, than stay in the UK and be outside the bloc, in the event of a hard Brexit. The results found 47.9 per cent of people would support joining the Republic of Ireland in the event of a hard Brexit, while 45.4 per cent would rather stay in the UK. Another six per cent said they were “undecided” but would definitely vote.

The survey commissioned by a left-leaning group in the European Parliament also found the majority of people (57.8 per cent) believe Northern Ireland should be given “special status” within the EU, include remaining in the customs union and single market.

The poll was carried out by Belfast-based polling company LucidTalk on behalf of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group in the European Parliament.