As voting in the Assembly election resumed, Sinn Fein appeared to be on track for a historic victory in Northern Ireland. After voters went to the polls the day before, the republican party had received the most first-preference votes as of Friday night.
As of Saturday morning in England, the Conservatives had lost nearly 500 seats in local elections, including a string of flagship councils, including Wandsworth and Westminster in London.
With 63 of 90 seats filled, the cross-community Alliance Party has made gains.
Sinn Féin winning the most seats in Northern Ireland would be a first for a nationalist party in the province. In the 2017 assembly election, the DUP took 28 seats, just ahead of Sinn Féin’s 27.
After a poor election performance, Sinn Féin now has 21 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), the DUP 19, Alliance 12, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) 5, and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) 4. Despite a boost in voter turnout, the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) only managed to reclaim one seat; one independent unionist was elected.
At 09:00 BST, counting resumed in three locations: Belfast’s Titanic Exhibition Centre, Jordanstown’s Ulster University, and Magherafelt’s Meadowbank Sports Arena.
Boris Johnson will use the Queen’s Speech to cement his leadership after a bruising set of local elections in which the Conservatives lost control of key authorities and lost a net of over 400 councillors.
Cabinet minister Nadhim Zahawi said Tuesday’s speech outlining the government’s priorities would focus on the economy, health, and national security as he urged Tory MPs to rally behind the Prime Minister. Despite issues in No 10 and Westminster being blamed for the party’s local defeats, Mr Zahawi insisted that the Prime Minister who won a landslide in the general election in 2019 remained an electoral asset for the Conservatives.