Leading article

This is shaping up to be an election like no other

This is certainly shaping up to be an unusual and fascinating election in a number of respects.

In Northern Ireland, the overarching issue of Brexit has pushed parties to take strategic decisions that may not have been contemplated in different times.

This poll has been identified as an opportunity to maximise the Remain vote, which so far has not been fully represented at Westminster where the DUP has propped up successive Tory governments.

Their much-vaunted relationship with Boris Johnson counted for little when he agreed an Irish Sea border with the EU in the face of fierce objections from the DUP, whose candidates are now having to explain to their voters how they made such a mess of Brexit.

As a result of the decisions by Remain parties, there is the possibility that a number of DUP MPs could lose their seats, with deputy leader Nigel Dodds at serious risk from a challenge by Sinn Féin's John Finucane.

The loss of a heavy hitter like Mr Dodds would be a major blow to the DUP although the party will be buoyed by the unexpected news that Lady Sylvia Hermon is stepping down in North Down.

Lady Hermon has been the lone Remain voice for Northern Ireland in the Commons and commanded cross-community support and respect for her passionate and unflinching stance in the face of at times outrageous conduct by the DUP.

Her vacant seat will be viewed as a significant prize by the DUP which has yet to decide who will contest Upper Bann where David Simpson has departed after a reported affair with a colleague.

And while there are always departures at election time, it is remarkable just how many high profile MPs, both Tory and Labour, have decided not to stand again.

For these parties, it is clear that a considerable number of representatives of the centre have, for whatever reason, had enough.

Included in that number is Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour party, whose resignation came as a political bombshell.

He insists his reasons are largely personal but the bitter divisions in the party have been all too evident under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, which has seen a lurch further to the left.

With the campaign barely underway, it is already apparent that the make up of the next House of Commons will be very different from the last.

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Leading article