The Observer view on the meaning of the local election results | Editorial

The fragmenting of the vote has left the union more fragile than ever

The headlines describing the performance of the main parties in last week’s local elections were undramatic, but they disguised a profound truth. The Conservatives suffered a dismal set of losses following the police fines for the prime minister and the chancellor for breaking the law during the pandemic. Labour achieved eye-catching success in London and made some progress elsewhere, but not enough for a party hoping to win an outright majority at the next general election. The Liberal Democrats went some way towards restoring their role as a repository of protest votes and as challenger to the Tories in swathes of the south and west. Nationalist parties performed well.

The most important dimension of last Thursday’s results is what they might mean for the country’s constitutional settlement. Sinn Féin’s success in the Northern Ireland assembly elections, coupled with the growing possibility of a Labour administration in Westminster contingent on SNP support, could have long-term and irreversible ramifications for the relationship between the UK’s four constituent nations.

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Local elections 2022, Northern Ireland, Northern Irish politics, Politics, UK news, Brexit, European Union, Foreign policy, Scotland, Wales, England, Conservatives, Labour, Sinn Féin, Democratic Unionist party (DUP) UK news | The Guardian

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