On Friday, with Democratic Unionist Party deputy leader Nigel Dodds losing his seat in the British parliament has increases the likelihood of Northern Ireland electing more Irish nationalists than pro-British unionists for the first time since 1921.
As a result, this could lead to amplifying calls from nationalists for a vote for Northern Ireland’s independence from the rest of the United Kingdom, even as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set for a resounding victory.
With 12 of the 18 seats declared, although the DUP is set to be the biggest party it is likely to hold fewer seats than the pro-Irish Sinn Fein and SDLP. The cross-community Alliance Party also took one seat, adding to the majority of anti-Brexit Mps.
Earlier during Brexit negotiations, Dodds had played the powerful role of a broker when the DUP propped up the minority Conservative Party government after the last election. His party had earlier stated, they felt betrayed by the deal Johnson had struck with Brussel to leave the European Union.
Dodds was defeated by John Finucane, the son of one of a high-profile victim of the sectarian violence which was largely ended by the 1998 peace deal. Finucane is the first Sinn Fein MP returned in the historically pro-British constituency of North Belfast.
Finucane win was backed by a pact between Sinn Fein and the SDLP – both of whom are in favor of Britain staying within the European Union. Both parties agreed not to compete in some areas in order to avoid splitting the remain vote. Northern Ireland voted 56% to 44% to remain with the EU.
“North Belfast rejects Brexit. North Belfast wants to remain. North Belfast wants to keep its place in the EU,” said Finucane, who paid tribute to his father, Pat, who was shot dead in front of his family by pro-British loyalist militants in 1989.
The development comes as an exit poll showed the Scottish National Party, which incidentally is also opposed to Brexit, is set to win 55 of of the 59 seats in Scotland – which could trigger demands for a second vote on independence.