Northern Ireland news

DUP stalwart Jim Shannon retains Strangford seat but Alliance vote surges

The DUP's Jim Shannon celebrates after topping the poll in the Strangford constituency. During his victory speech, he accused Boris Johnson of "degrading" the union. PA Photo.
Seanín Graham

A DUP win was never in any doubt for Strangford - but election night also saw a major surge in the Alliance party's fortunes.

Despite being caught up in a parliamentary expenses spending scandal, the DUP's Jim Shannon will be returning to Westminster after finishing 7,000 votes ahead of his nearest contender, Alliance's Kellie Armstrong.

However, the former butcher's performance dipped from 2017 when he romped home with 60 per cent of the vote - this time it dropped by almost 15 per cent.

Ms Armstrong - who recently joked she's so busy with casework that she didn't know if her office staff would have time for the return of Stormont - saw her vote share increase by almost 14 per cent in an Alliance boost that was reflected across the north.

Her success at the polls was all the more significant given the majority of Strangford voters endorsed Brexit - with the constituency having the second highest leave vote at 55.5 per cent, second only to North Antrim.

With Mr Shannon's party firmly opposed to Boris Johnson's Brexit plan, he used his victory speech at the Bangor Count Centre to slate the British Prime Minister's handling of the withdrawal agreement, accusing him of "degrading and downgrading" the union

The DUP has accused Mr Johnson of reneging on the party's previously negotiated red lines.

"I suppose the best way to describe Boris Johnson, and this is for the record, he would take your Alsatian dog for a walk, he’d get back an hour later and he’d give you a Chihuahua and he’d say it was alright," Mr Shannon said.

The Conservative majority also means Mr Shannon and his seven returning DUP colleagues have lost the 'kingmaker' role they have enjoyed for the past two years in propping up the Tories.

However, he insisted they would still have influence and, using a biblical reference, quoted Gideon's army of 300 men taking on a much larger force.

"So be under no illusions whatever number the DUP go back with, our DUP ones will make their voice heard," Mr Shannon said.


Jim Shannon (DUP) 17,705 (47.2%) -14.8%

Kellie Armstrong (All) 10,634 (28.4%) +13.7%

Philip Smith (UUP) 4,023 (10.7%) -0.7%

Joe Boyle (SDLP) 1,994 (5.3%) -0.9%

Grant Abraham (Con) 1,476 (3.9%) +2.6%

Maurice Macartney (Green) 790 (2.1%) +0.5%

Ryan Carlin (SF) 555 (1.5%) -1.3%

Robert Stephenson (UKIP) 308 (0.8%) +0.8%

Electorate: 66,928

Turnout: 37,669 (56.2%) - 4.2%

Majority 7,071

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