Aiken PR

The Briefing

Northern Ireland – General Election Analysis December 2019

by Aiken PR

13/12/2019

 At a glance

  • In a national UK and local NI election, Westminster 2019 will go down in history.  The seismic changes which have taken place will influence the future direction of UK politics centrally and regionally for a generation.
  • In Northern Ireland on a night of high drama. The result in North Belfast cannot be underestimated as much in terms of the very significant loss to the DUP of its strategist and Leader in the Commons Nigel Dodds, as it is for the rapid elevation within Sinn Fein’s ranks of Lord Mayor John Finucane.
  • The other most notable wins were SDLP leader Colum Eastwood overturning 2017’s Westminster loss with a 17k majority, his colleague Claire Hanna ousting the sitting DUP MP Emma Little Pengelly with a 15.5k majority and the Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry upsetting the bookies favourite Alex Easton DUP in North Down
  • The gains of the SDLP and Alliance are being interpreted as a direct impact of the vacuum there has been at Westminster from pro Remain Parties and the perceived intransigence of the two main parties to get Stormont back up and running.
  • The UUP were collateral damage and were caught in the crossfire placing the party questioning how it can ever regain the influence it once had.
  • With talks set to commence next week there is an expectation that it is now incumbent upon the two main parties to make genuine efforts to resolve their differences and soundings from the two suggest that there are commitments on both sides to do so
  • However, the old wounds remain, with the publication of RHI report postponed because of the election and due soon, the legacy of the past and the Irish language all areas which will inhibit an agreement.
  • A full list of outgoing and incoming MPs is located at the end of this document


UK results

  • Following a landslide election win, Boris Johnson has promised to deliver Brexit and repay the trust of voters
  • The prime minister – who is meeting the Queen to ask to form a new government – has a Commons majority of 78
  • The Conservatives have 364 MPs, Labour 203, the SNP 48, Liberal Democrats 11 and the DUP eight.
  • Sinn Fein has seven MPs, Plaid Cymru four and the SDLP has two. The Green Party and Alliance Party have one each.
  • The Brexit Party – which triumphed in the summer’s European Parliament elections – failed to win any Westminster seats.
  • The Conservative Party’s Commons majority is its largest since Margaret Thatcher won a third term in 1987.
  • With a cabinet reshuffle likely, NI Secretary of State Julian Smith is in a precarious position with significant tension between he and Boris Johnson’s now renowned special advisor Dominic Cummings.  All indications point to him being in a stay of execution.

 

Voting Analysis

  • Voting turnout for Northern Ireland was 62.09%
  • Total votes polled was 803,367
  • 51,273 new voters had registered since the 2017 election
  • It had been reported that many of these new registered voters came from Unionist areas, particularly in Belfast
  • DUP – 8
  • SF – 7
  • SDLP – 2
  • APNI – 1
  • UUP – 0
  • AONT – 0

 

Analysis

  • Overall, a bad night for the two largest parties (SF & DUP) with both losing large swathes of total voting share
  • The DUP have lost their influence (and of course its confidence and supply) at Westminster with the loss of crucial battles in South and North Belfast impacting on an overall voting share reduction of 5.4%.
  • Sinn Fein have lost 6.7% of its total voting share and taken a substantial defeat in Foyle to the SDLP
  • The vote represents increased frustration from the NI electorate at pro remain representation at Westminster and the lack of local institutions with the Alliance and the SDLP being the main benefactors, increasing vote share and gaining seats.
  • From our sources, there is growing pressure on SF and DUP resolve outstanding differences in relation to a power–sharing agreement
  • In the wake of the results, there is more impetus and optimism around the restoration of Stormont
  • The Secretary of State for NI will convene a new round of talks on Monday to restore devolution and a deadline has been set for January 13th

 

Brexit – the road ahead

  • Boris Johnson’s victory in the 2019 general election means the UK is likely to be officially out of the EU at the end of January. However, there are still a number of steps required to implement the current EU UK deal.
  • The Prime Minister plans to bring his withdrawal agreement through Parliament to make sure the UK leaves the EU by January 31. 
  • MPs are set go to the Commons (many for the first time) to begin “swearing in” on Tue 17th.
  • The Queen will then attend Parliament for a stripped–down Queen’s Speech on Thursday 19 December with no ceremonial robes and no golden carriage.
  • MPs will then hold the “second reading” vote on Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal before Christmas – probably on Friday or the Monday after next – to pass its first hurdle.
  • MPs will spend much of the month carrying out detailed scrutiny of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill – the legal mechanism for translating the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal into law.
  • They need to go through a committee stage, ‘third reading’ and the House of Lords before it receives Royal Assent before January 31.
  • The race to “get Brexit done” has already commenced, with talk of the House of Commons being asked to sit on the Saturday before Christmas and the House of Lords having to sit between Christmas and new year.

 

The markets

  • The pound shot higher as currency traders moved to price in a significant victory for the Conservative party in the UK general election
  • Sterling climbed 2.7 per cent to $1.351, its highest level against the US dollar since May 2018, putting it on course for one of its biggest ever one–day gains.
  • The UK currency reached its highest level against the euro since December 2016, hitting €1.207.
  • Investors and analysts said a Conservative victory removed some of the uncertainty clouding the UK’s path towards leaving the EU, allowing Mr Johnson to get his Brexit deal through parliament.

 

Reaction

 

Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry:

“This is a victory for the values that this constituency has been known for many years, those of moderation, rationalism and inclusion”

 

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood:

“We hear you loud and clear, we know you want someone to go to Westminster to fight your case, to stand up to Boris Johnson, to protect us from Brexit. You also want us to get back to work in Stormont, no more excuses will be accepted by the people of our city or by the people of Northern Ireland”

Sinn Féin Northern Ireland leader Michelle O’Neill:

“Sinn Fein will be in the talks on Monday morning to work to secure a genuine power–sharing executive which is credible and sustainable to deliver good government and properly resourced public services to all”

 

Sinn Féin’s new MP for Belfast North, John Finucane

“I can’t help but think of my father and where we have come from, not just as a family but as a society as well”

 

DUP’s Leader in Westminster, Nigel Dodds 

“Boris Johnson needs to understand that we must have a Brexit that ensures that it protects the integrity of the United Kingdom and is the best deal for Northern Ireland and that is something we will continue to work with the Government on in the days ahead”

 

Sam McBride, Newsletter, Political Editor

“Calamitous night for the DUP: King–making Westminster role gone & Irish Sea border coming, commons leader & key strategist Nigel Dodds defeated by Sinn Fein in N Belfast, lost unionist safe seat of N Down, having expected to win, lost South Belfast, Brexit key to defeats”

 

Constituency

Outgoing MP

New Incumbent

Belfast North

Nigel Dodds

DUP

Change

SF (John Finucane)

Belfast South

Emma Little–Pengelly

DUP

Change

SDLP (Claire Hanna)

Foyle

Elisha McCallion

SF

Change

SDLP (Colum Eastwood

North Down

Lady Sylvia Hermon

Independent

Change

Alliance (Stephen Farry)

Belfast East

Gavin Robinson

DUP

No change

DUP

Belfast West

Paul Maskey

SF

No change

SF

East Antrim

Sammy Wilson

DUP

No change

DUP

East Londonderry

Gregory Campbell

DUP

No change

DUP

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Michelle Gildernew

SF

No change

SF

Lagan Valley

Jeffrey Donaldson

DUP

No change

DUP

Mid Ulster

Francie Molloy

SF

No change

SF

Newry & Armagh

Mickie Brady

SF

No change

SF

North Antrim

Ian Paisley

DUP

No change

DUP

South Antrim

Paul Girvan

DUP

No change

DUP

South Down

Chris Hazzard

SF

No change

SF

Strangford

Jim Shannon

DUP

No change

DUP

Upper Bann

Carla Lockhart

DUP

No change

DUP

West Tyrone

Orfhlaith Begley

SF

No change

SF