IT’S business as usual in East Antrim as incumbent Sammy Wilson laid claim to his seat once again, but the DUP veteran raised eyebrows with a significant increase in his vote.
In a night that saw the wind taken out of Ulster Unionist sails with a Westminster wipeout, hopes that assembly election success in East Antrim for Robin Swann’s party could translate to a real threat to Mr Wilson’s parliament position were shot down as the DUP MP saw a 21.2 percent boost from his 2015 finishing position.
That had Mr Wilson beaming, as it reversed his previous Westminster vote drop of 9.7 percent at the last poll – and then some.
“Unionism awakened yesterday and made its voice clear,” he crowed on Friday morning as he looked down the barrel of real power in London thanks to Theresa May’s Conservatives coming up short.
John Stewart, who along with his UUP colleague Roy Beggs secured assembly seats just a few months ago with a combined vote of 8,498, failed to drum up anything like the same support on his solo Westminster run, and scrimped 4,524 – a drop of seven per cent from the 2015 result.
Mr Stewart described his finish as “disappointing”, but added his team could “hold our heads high knowing we ran a positive campaign”.
Holding steady was the Alliance Party’s Stewart Dickson, who finished a fraction over of his last General Election result with 15.6 per cent of the vote.
Conceding, he took comfort in his claim that Alliance are now “the custodians of the centre ground” in northern politics now Sinn Féin and the DUP have effectively carved the political map in two.
In what might have been the last chance saloon electorally for Sinn Féin’s Oliver McMullan – unless a shaky coalition collapse sees voters forced to return to the ballot box later this year or early next – the former East Antrim MLA nabbed 2.4 per cent extra in his votes.
This was a respectable increase of well over a thousand extra Xs for the party in a constituency where nationalism has a long, long way to go before it seriously dents unionism in any poll.
The SDLP vote here continued to tumble, as Margaret Anne McKillop, a Causeway Coast and Glens councillor, brought her party’s tally down even further – 1.5 per cent – than 2015. This is a not insignificant number considering the relative rarity of moderate nationalist support in a constituency that is almost the dictionary definition of “staunch” with its unionism.
And what of the Tories? While licking its wounds elsewhere, the party can have a quantum crumb of comfort with almost a single per cent of an increase in East Antrim thanks to Mark Logan.
Sammy Wilson (DUP) 21,873 votes 57.34% of vote
Stewart Dickson (Alliance) 5,950 votes 15.60%
John Stewart (UUP) 4,524 votes 11.86%
Oliver McMullan (SF) 3,555 9.32%
Margaret McKillop (SDLP) 1,278 3.35%
Mark Logan (C) 963 2.52 votes
Turnout 38,143 – 60.63%
Constituency Quick Links
- Belfast North
- Belfast East
- Belfast South
- Belfast West
- East Derry
- Lagan Valley
- East Antrim
- Fermanagh South Tyrone
- Mid Ulster
- Newry and Armagh
- North Antrim
- South Antrim
- North Down
- South Down
- Upper Bann
- West Tyrone
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