A Tory landslide may prove bitter-sweet for Unionists

On the eve of what has been a disastrous Westminster election campaign for the Tories it seems that the Conservatives are set to be returned as the main political party in Britain once again.

The election here in the north has been somewhat dull, certainly in comparison to the Assembly poll in March  so hopefully we will have some dramatic results in the wee small hours of Friday morning to make up for that.

By the weekend the DUP should emerge as the largest party, in terms of seats if not votes, starting this campaign with 7 relatively safe seats.

The Unionist parties here will no doubt want to see Theresa May returned as PM but a comfortable majority for the Conservatives will probably lead to a significantly worse outcome for them come the subsequent General Election.

If the Tories are returned with a landslide the planned reduction from 18 to 17 seats here in the north should proceed without hindrance. It would be set in stone late next year when the Boundary Commission concludes its work.

The Tories will be keen to proceed with the changes to better their own political outlook and unionist protests here will be ignored if there is a landslide that washes away unionist leverage.

Faha has already looked at the proposed constituencies in detail here and notes the fact that large unionist constituencies in the east will have to expand significantly because they are already below the average quota.

All in all it points to a changed landscape in which the majority of MPs being returned (based on recent results) will be nationalist / republican and the number of clearly safe Unionist seats will drop from 10 to 7. Bar unionist electoral pacts the number of nationalist / republican seats should rise from 7 to 9 and the Alliance Party should gain the new seat of Belfast South East.

Such an outcome within the next 5 years could coincide with the centenary of partition and would confirm a significant political change in the north that we first got a glimpse of on 2nd March.

A Tory victory on Friday would be well received by Unionists. But in the longer term it may prove bitter-sweet.

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