A new opinion poll suggests that more people in Britain support the idea of a united Ireland. The poll says that they believe Northern Ireland should be part of a united Ireland than remain in the United Kingdom.

In the ICM telephone poll for the Guardian newspaper, 41% of those questioned said that the North should become part of the Irish Republic, while only 26% said that it should stay in the UK.

In what is likely to be a serious disappointment to Unionists, the poll also finds that a majority of respondents, 65%, blames both sides equally for the current problems in the peace process. Only 5% of people blamed Republicans, while 3% blamed Unionists.

The poll suggests that there is no sympathy among the British public for the Unionist position that the IRA's refusal to decommission is the cause of the current problems.

The newspaper reported that ICM interviewed a random sample of 1,004 adults over 18 across Britain by telephone to conduct the poll.

Sinn Féin has called on Tony Blair to take the results on board. They said that nothing short of Irish unity would suffice.