The Devolved Nations

Ailsa Henderson*, Roger Awan-Scully, Jonathan Tonge

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In this chapter, specialists on the devolved nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland review the main political developments of the last Parliament, the election campaign and the election results in each of these nations. Elections in Scotland have since 2014 been events shaped by the aftermath of referendums. The 2015 UK general election was held in the shadow of the previous autumn’s independence referendum, and the 2017 UK general election in the shadow of the previous year’s Brexit referendum. In the 2019 UK general election, the combined impact of these two ‘once in a generation’ constitutional choices continued to resonate. This was neither an independence election nor a Brexit election, but a bit of both, with Scottish voters pulled in multiple directions. The 2019 general election followed more than three years of rancorous Brexit debate in Leave-voting Wales. The election campaign was fought by new Welsh leaders for all the main parties, while the Remain Alliance (between the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Greens) operated across a far greater proportion of seats than in England. The results showed a substantial swing to the Conservatives, who captured six seats from Labour and equalled their best post-war general election performance. Labour remained Wales’ largest party, but experienced a significant setback, while the Remain Alliance failed to achieve any electoral success. The 2019 general election in Northern Ireland marked the end of the DUP’s brief period as Westminster powerbrokers. For critics within and outside the party, it was a balance of power squandered. Boris Johnson blindsided DUP leader Arlene Foster by concluding a Brexit deal involving a trade border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, something he had told the 2018 DUP conference no Conservative Prime Minister could or should support. The DUP suffered a poor election, losing two seats. However, Sinn Féin also suffered a substantial loss of votes, as the largest two parties were both blamed for the absence of devolved government, which had collapsed in 2017. The main beneficiary was the cross-community Alliance, now the third most-popular party. Its growth reflected movement from the unionist versus nationalist binary. The election helped restore devolution, but power-sharing remained unstable.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe British General Electon of 2019
EditorsRobert Ford, Tim Bale, Will Jennings, Paula Surridge
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages39
ISBN (Electronic)9783030742546
ISBN (Print)9783030742539, 9783030742560
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2021


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