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Opinion: Boris Johnson is the most cynical occupant of his office in living memory

While political parties on both sides of the Irish Sea regularly claim that any given election is the most important faced for decades, the evidence is that on this occasion they may well be telling the truth.

Health, education, the economy and the environment are all high on the agenda but Brexit is the issue of a generation and it is reaching a defining stage.

In the past, nationalists regularly and unionists with increasing frequency felt their key concerns were not being taken seriously by successive British prime ministers.

There can no longer be any room for doubt that Boris Johnson is the most cynical occupant of his office in living memory, and has effectively no interest in the impact of his policies on any part of Northern Ireland.

The DUP has learnt the hard way at Westminster that those who are bought can be sold and the only way forward is through reaching an accommodation with nationalism which is capable of reviving the Stormont structures.

As we reported yesterday, the main elements are falling into place, and, with a degree of maturity on all sides, there are grounds for hoping that an Executive can be back in place early in the new year.

However, it is essential that a majority of voters tomorrow take the opportunity to confirm that they are firmly opposed to Brexit and that any departure from the EU imposed against their clearly expressed will must be in the least damaging circumstances possible.

Electoral pacts do little to reduce the tensions associated with a divided society, but, as ordinary nationalist, unionist and unaligned citizens face a crisis which is not of their making, the priority needs to be returning as many pro-Remain MPs as possible.

It is inevitable that such developments will further weaken the union with Britain, but this is an outcome which the DUP should have anticipated before it placed its faith in Mr Johnson and his colourful friends in the European Research Group.

After the results are declared in the course of Friday, there will be an expectation that all the main parties engage comprehensively during the resumed negotiations of the following week.

If a sense of mutual respect can be established across the board, the goal should be reaching agreement on a resumed Executive before the third anniversary of the collapse of its predecessor arrives on January 9.

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