“56 per cent of Northern Irish electors who voted remain could end up underrepresented in Brexit debates”

Fascinating developments across the water in this election. My old mucker from Daily Telegraph days, Robert Colvile points out that it arises less from a failure of Tories, but more from a general consolidation of opposition voters behind Labour in England (and the SNP in Scotland).

What has actually transformed the race is not the falling popularity of Theresa May, but the rising popularity of Jeremy Corbyn. Here is the same chart plotting both Corbyn and Labour’s YouGov ratings.

You’ll notice that there’s been a dramatic rise – all the more so when you consider that the Tory line, while looking dramatic, actually bounces around within a 10-point range: transpose it on to the second chart and it would look much flatter.

Yep. His conclusion is that competence gets you into Number 10 rather than niceness. Maybe. Although his example of Trump would not exactly support such a thesis.

More likely large electorates like the UK’s are turning into more complex systems than they’ve ever been before.  The Leave side won the complexity stakes last June, shading a margin result in all the marginal places where extra votes were to be found.

Labour continues to put most of its effort into the ground game, and Corbyn’s big people rallies. That will work in places, where the leader resonates. It may even be having an effect in some of the core areas the Tories have been planning to make big gains.

However much polls narrow, we know that almost any narrow outcome favours our local parties. Or at least the ones who claim their seats. Sinn Fein’s absence is a passive ascent to whichever English party wins, much as their non-participation in June handed their cards to Brexiteers.

The most cogent argument thus far is in the New Statesman from Patrick Maguire…

…with the polls narrowing, the Tories could be on course for a majority of under 50 seats. At that point, the Northern Irish MPs – particularly the unionists – will really begin to matter to the narrative again.

The DUP could, on a really good night, increase its representation from eight to 10 with victories in South Antrim and South Belfast. On a bad night, it might lose Belfast East to the cross-community Alliance and fall to seven (though this looks rather less likely).

He continues..

But regardless of the result, its MPs will provide May – of whom they are an enormous fan – with valuable insulation against the unpredictable whims of her backbenchers.

Nobody drives a commons bargain like the DUP, and in the last parliament, this sort of leverage proved useful in debates over Troubles legacy prosecutions.

Should Stormont remain mothballed and the slow return to direct rule continue, the DUP – plus one or two Ulster Unionists – could again wield outsized influence over the tone and direction of government policy on Northern Ireland.

Arlene Foster’s adroit decision to cast the election as a de facto referendum on Northern Ireland’s place on the union could well pay off.

Why are they such great fans of Mrs May? Henry at Conservative Home argues that the UK Government’s Blairite-Cameroon role of honest broker is officially over, with an implication for hungry crocodiles that they will stay hungry…

Not only does it take a big reward for Republican intransigence off the table, but it also sends a very strong signal that a British Government led by Theresa May will not be minded to grant the separatists the further shopping list of indulgences they’d need to actually have a shot at breaking Northern Ireland away from Britain.

Patrick again…

Should the pro-EU SDLP lose one or more seats to the DUP and Sinn Féin – a scenario that most informed observers agree is unlikely, but not impossible – then the 56 per cent of Northern Irish electors who voted remain could end up underepresented in Brexit debates. The DUP are devout leavers, while Sinn Féin, of course, won’t be in the room.

Yep. And don’t believe SF claims that their reps are anywhere near the place. Their travel expenses demonstrate they will be doing nothing to pursue the Irish national interest with fellow British parliamentarians in London.

  • If many of those who have voted remain accept the democratic outcome of the national vote then perhaps they’ve just moved on by now and want a good outcome in the Brexit talks. 56% is so last year.

  • mickfealty

    That’s a fair way of putting it, but let’s face it, with the figures as they are now, it’s really down to a divide between those who wish to help Mrs May do her homework v those who want to mark it.

  • WindowLean

    passive ascent…should that be assent??

  • ted hagan

    The DUP’s idea of what a ‘good Brexit’ is for Northern Ireland and what a Remain voter’s is are likely very different. Yes, across the water many Remainers have become philosophical about the outcome. The situation here, I suspect is very, very different and the opposition just as strong.

  • Karl

    Theresa would sell NI 3 times over if it meant Sunderlands cars can get into europe tariff free.

    Make no mistake, it is wishful thinking on the unionists part that the Tories will need them (expect another Dianne Abbot moment to reverse the current flow) and even more wishful thinking that their downward electoral spiral can be halted.
    Revised constituencies will see them lose both their parliamentary and assembly majorities.

    Stormont will remain boarded up until brexit is over. SF dont need another level of british admin to overcome. The big boys will start negotiating in earnest after the german elections. That means london and brussels. Belfast will not be taken into consideration. Dublin will.
    Once there May will have to make some v stark choices and NI wont even figure in her thinking.

  • GavBelfast

    People vote Sinn Fein knowing their manifesto and that their vote won’t count in the Commons – they’re not stupid. They also can’t complain if they can’t then make an impact in the overall argument or in Commons’ votes that could count.

  • ted hagan

    After just erasing the McGuinness ‘softly, softly’ chapter from their history book, they’re hardly likely to countenance taking their seats at Westminister.

  • Skibo

    Could i suggest that the current rise in Corbyn support is more to do with the young and the people who embrace the internet and sites like this completing polls. Unfortunately the people who vote are those who read news papers and watch the telly. Both mediums are as strong behind the Tories as they ever have been.
    I support Jeremy, I hope he does well but I am not optimistic. Had Bernie Sanders won the Democratic mandate, he may have been in the Whitehouse today and Corbyn would have received a boost from such an election.
    If the Tories had any sense they would not tie their wagon to the DUP hand cart. Not sure the DUP would actually want such a marriage when you see how it effected the UUP!

  • Granni Trixie

    And some who would like to help with th homework AND mark it?

  • Fred Jensen

    Ha! So you’re going to ignore the democratic result in NI simply because it was 12 months ago? Nice bit of twisted logic.

  • 1729torus

    I think that Mr. Brian Walker’s proposals from April give us a good idea of what the eventual settlement will look like. A border poll before 2030 would likely be a waste, and the GFA broadly provides more or less what Nationalists need until then.

    Even if we already roughly know the contours of a deal, it probably can’t be concluded until we know what Brexit will be like and NI has fully absorbed the shock of #AE17. Both of which will take 3-9 years, maybe a bit longer. Echoes of “Sunningdale for slow learners” here.

    As a result of the DUP’s obstructionism, there is a lot of pent of Nationalist energy that needs to be expressed before things calm down. SF won’t really try to reach a compromise as long as they think they can do better in a year or two if they keep pushing.

    Advantageous boundary changes won’t come in until around 2018, and SF will want to use the 2019 locals to put down roots east of the Bann. The census will be conducted in 2021. Apathetic Nationalists might be more inclined to vote now that the DUP are below the POC threshold and SF are growing. FF might run here and boost Nationalist turnout further. They’re still expanding in RoI. A Westminster election will happen around 2022. Gerry’s due to retire soon.

    So it won’t be until after the 2022/2023 Assembly elections and the release of the next census that SF will have a rough sense of how strong they are and the easy growth opportunities start to become exhausted. That’s when SF will sincerely come to the negotiating table.

  • NewSouthernMan

    Dublin will make sure the North is not forgotten.

  • Vince

    Have to say that I still can’t see the Conservative majority being <100 (although hope it is – they are an extremely uninspriring bunch to put it charitably). Irrespective of the size of the majority (landslide/slender) voices opposed to a hard Brexit/no EU deal have to be there and be heard, particularly from the region that will be most impacted by the outcome. Seeking election to a legislature and then to not participate in it is just a nonsense. Who among us, tasked with the opportunity (and responsibility) to advocate for the needs of others by attending a meeting would say "no thanks" and either stand outside with a placard or organise an alternative meeting in an office across the street?

  • Msiegnaro

    As in Donegal?

  • Jag

    According to YouGov polling this week, the projected seats for the Tories are 310 (out of 660). Even with 10 DUPers, the Tories are still facing a 10 MP shortfall for a majority.

    Of course, there’s a week to go, and maybe the momentum behind Labour will fall off and reverse, but you kinda get the sense that the British electorate is regarding Theresa May as the figurehead for the Tories and thinks she’s an insincere, incompetent, unlikeable person.

    Next week could see (a) a hung parliament (b) the DUP having no power because even with their numbers the Tories won;t be able to muster 330 votes and (c) pro-remainers having a majority.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The 12 Northern Counties of the Island of Ireland.

  • Karl

    The most interesting thing about the last week has been the turn around in public perception of Jeremy Corbyn, or maybe he was just reported on more fairly under electoral guidelines.
    I think that while its likely that May comes back with her 50+ majority, that Labour MPs will see that they have a leader who can win, whose policies resonate with a vast swade of the British electorate and who has to some extent rejuvenated the youth vote and galvanised it behind labour.
    In short, Jeremy gets to keep his job to the next election, where he gets to win it and himself and Gerry can share a drink in the Felons club.

  • nilehenri

    But regardless of the result, its MPs will provide May – of whom they are an enormous fan – with valuable insulation against the unpredictable whims of her backbenchers. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fe1839e9cfd96c59de181ac3e360f0e4f2e7e128b09953a https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fddd2f4eff0ceb94e5a0ccf0306747273abfd9c3c67708171a0c69aaff051350.png 84bfaee3549b83409.png
    Nobody drives a commons bargain like the DUP, and in the last parliament, this sort of leverage proved useful in debates over Troubles legacy prosecutions. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/807dd19ca38be10fc2eb1c60f60dc5f57f900a5cd62bf0f1aab12bf0ce9f9384.png
    Should Stormont remain mothballed and the slow return to direct rule continue, the DUP – plus one or two Ulster Unionists – could again wield outsized influence over the tone and direction of government policy on Northern Ireland. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8e75fde3a0a0c8567d0eb90dd83ad9969734d3e42dd1d81a5a9fc7583e0bbbb9.png
    Arlene Foster’s adroit decision to cast the election as a de facto referendum on Northern Ireland’s place on the union could well pay off. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fddd2f4eff0ceb94e5a0ccf0306747273abfd9c3c67708171a0c69aaff051350.png

  • nilehenri

    the same paragraph with screen shots from the local conservatives site to put it all into context.

    But regardless of the result, its MPs will provide May – of whom they are an enormous fan – with valuable insulation against the unpredictable whims of her backbenchers.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/807dd19ca38be10fc2eb1c60f60dc5f57f900a5cd62bf0f1aab12bf0ce9f9384.png
    Nobody drives a commons bargain like the DUP, and in the last parliament, this sort of leverage proved useful in debates over Troubles legacy prosecutions.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fddd2f4eff0ceb94e5a0ccf0306747273abfd9c3c67708171a0c69aaff051350.png
    Should Stormont remain mothballed and the slow return to direct rule continue, the DUP – plus one or two Ulster Unionists – could again wield outsized influence over the tone and direction of government policy on Northern Ireland.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8e75fde3a0a0c8567d0eb90dd83ad9969734d3e42dd1d81a5a9fc7583e0bbbb9.png
    Arlene Foster’s adroit decision to cast the election as a de facto referendum on Northern Ireland’s place on the union could well pay off.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fe1839e9cfd96c59de181ac3e360f0e4f2e7e128b09953a84bfaee3549b83409.png

  • Skibo

    Mick let us all accept that if May gets back in then she and her multimillionaires in the cabinet will be deciding what Brexit will look like and we minions will not get a look in and worse is Westminster will not be required to rubber stamp it.

  • Dexter

    1. I think that the tightening of polls in Britain is exaggerated and inaccurate. The Tories will comfortably win with an overall majority as the UKIP vote will almost universally migrate to the Tories. Also, many of the under 35s who are Corbyn supporters actually don’t ultimately turn out and vote. Further, there will be quite a few who will hover over the ballot paper before deciding they cannot actually vote for Corbyn as PM.

    2. The DUP’s (and now Robin Swann’s) nonsensical position that there should be no special status or particular arrangements for the North ignores the realities of the situation in this island and risks jobs, prosperity, education and healthcare for so many people here.

    3. “Arlene Foster’s adroit decision to cast the election as a de facto referendum on Northern Ireland’s place on the union could well pay off.”

    When has a Unionist leader not played the Union card in an election???

  • NotNowJohnny

    To answer your question, Mike Nesbitt in the last Assembly election.

  • Dexter

    You’ve a pretty wife definition of ‘leader’… 😉

  • NewSouthernMan

    Msiegnaro, I think you are implying that Donegal is a bit of an economic basket case and that Dublin has ignored it?

    I’d suggest that Donegal is an unfortunate victim of the giant economic sinkhole that is the Six Counties. Despite the best intentions of Dublin, Donegal is a victim of it’s location.

    Almost cut off from the ‘mainland’, poor Donegal is like the nice family still living in a bad neighborhood!

    Unfortunately, turning the 6 counties into an economic disaster area seems to be the unionist strategy of the 21st century. One day we will all look back and realize the madness of it all.

  • Schmitty

    Worth pointing out that a majority of 326 is needed.

    Depending on how many abstentionists get elected this figure drops (8 MP’s mean majority of 322).

    As the potential of a hung parliament looms and those single seats matter more, we may find (ironically) that SF’s success will bring comfort to the Tories!

  • Jag

    Judging by population change between 2011 and 2016, Dublin couldn’t give a fiddlers about the North (east, Louth did okay but it’s now a suburb of Dublin).

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f40b2fe7c0c3728e746f1935ac673aeaac6017c9fbd79808036f90cfb8e744ef.jpg

  • NewSouthernMan

    Jag, see my comment to Msiegnaro below. If you use population as an indirect measurement of economic performance, the population facts you present only confirms my point. The closer you live to the six counties, the poorer the economy.

    That’s not the fault of Dublin, but London and Belfast.

    Divergent economics was the cause of partition and it will be the solution to partition.

  • Msiegnaro

    There is merit in what you have said, perhaps six should become seven?!

  • Cal Cryton

    Jeez that was a big increase in population in Donegal between 2006 and 2011…

  • Barneyt

    It has a touch of 1992 about it in terms of the actual result. I don’t see a Corbyn victory parade in advance however. The sway and influence the unionists had on the John Major government could easily repeat. At present and 50 seat Tory majority looks a tad generous mick. As with the 2015 the time inside the booth will determine the outcome as obvious as that sounds. Votes can shift during the short journey from the car to the zone where you place your mark. The Libs can only improve. The small losses expected by snp should transfer to labour. I would not be shocked if Corbyn found himself leading a coalition of sorts. Even in the last two years social media has become more rampant and the BBC lack of balance is only fuelling the alternative viral media.

    I do think this is a combination of Teresa losing it and Jeremy proving likeable and committed to who he is and what he believes. As far as brexit and provoking a border poll goes? A jc or coalition win will park the entire reunification spake. A sound victory of the torys will however hasten matters and put another spring in the nationalist step

  • Barneyt

    I don’t have faith in the parliamentary party to hold on to Jeremy should he fail to take the keys to number 10. I don’t believe many sign up to the current manifesto either. However if Jc and his policies do register as you say ( hope so) can he now not creep over the line?

  • Barneyt

    Interesting to see where the pen settles when the hovering stops. I don’t think the torys will get a air gap sufficient to rule. Let’s see

  • NotNowJohnny

    Nope. Just the dictionary one.