It is my impression that Scotland and NI tend to be "more left" politically (i.e. more likely to lean Labour or other left-er parties vs. Tories).

As such, all other things being equal (including assuming there's no anti-Tory backlash due to Brexit after-effects), how would the political landscape change in the UK (let's say as far as the composition of parliament as a useful proxy) if Scotland and/or Northern Ireland follow through on what some of their leadership talk about, and elect to leave the UK; thus taking many left-leaning voters with them?


While it's true that Scotland has been the preserve of Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and SNP, who are more progressive than the Conservative party, even though in 2015 the SNP won almost all of Scotland they still only have 56 seats out of a parliament of 650, and Northern Ireland has fewer still. Scotland contributed 1 MP towards the Conservative party's majority of 12, but even if Labour, the SNP, and what was left of the Liberal Democrats formed a coalition they'd still be 35 shy of the Conservative total.

Scotland is an at best minor political force as the lion's share of the votes come from England. And even with almost total rejection of the Conservative party from Scotland in 2015 the Conservatives still won a slim majority. However, if Scotland left the UK the remaining parliament would become decidedly more right wing, and it would be easier for the Conservative party to win in future. Even though Scotland is unable to thwart a Conservative England, they still help change the colour of the debate by just showing up.

I'd also like to stress that Northern Ireland is absolutely not left wing. Northern Irish politics is split down the middle between two tribes: Irish catholic nationalists and British protestant unionists. What this means, is that whilst the largest nationalist party is Sinn Fein, whose roots are far left, Catholicism is a pillar of Irish identity which acts to temper their otherwise progressive instincts. The country's attitudes are decidedly traditionalist. Especially the conservative evangelical attitudes of the proudly protestant Democratic Unionist Party... who are generally in an intense state of denial about everything that has happened since 1690. The DUP are a loyal Conservative ally, whilst Sinn Fein are abstentionists, meaning they refuse to attend parliament (because it is a British institution and they are very much not British) and so are of little use to any potential allies in Westminster.

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    This answer is great, and may be furether improved by quantifying the already-excellent raw data you present with the summary (e.g., what's the current margin for Tories, what would it be absent Scottish votes). – user4012 Jun 30 '16 at 19:04
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    To save someone else doing the maths, there are currently 650 constituencies and 330 sitting Conservative MPs, giving a nominal majority of 10. The effective majority is actually 17, higher due to the 4 Sinn Fein MPs, the vacant seat of murdered MP Jo Cox, as well as the party affiliations of the speaker and deputy speakers, who don't normally vote. Scotland returns 59 MPs (one Conservative) and Northern Ireland 18 (none Conservative). This would give 329 Conservative MPs in a house of 591 MPs (without Scotland) or 573, and nominal majorities of 67 or 85. – origimbo Jun 30 '16 at 20:08

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