East Antrim: Colossal surge to the DUP

Supporters applaud victorious Sammy Wilson
Supporters applaud victorious Sammy Wilson

The DUP’s share of the vote in East Antrim has increased by a remarkable margin.

Sammy Wilson won the strongly-unionist seat with 57.3% of the vote – an increase of more than half compared with his 2015 results.

Sammy Wilson

Sammy Wilson

In 2015, he had got 36.1% of the vote.

Meanwhile, the Alliance Party leaped forward into second place in the constituency, winning 16% of the vote and displacing the UUP, which polled only 9.3%.

Turnout jumped from 53.6% in 2015 to 60.8% this time.

Speaking before official results were in, DUP Mr Wilson put the huge surge in votes down in part to that fact that UKIP and the TUV were not standing this time around.

John Stewart

John Stewart

In the last general election, those two smaller parties together took more than 15% of the vote.

Mr Wilson also said that “people did respond to the call I made in my election literature - at the end of the day, we’ll be judged on the total vote across Northern Ireland, therefore it’s important for unionists to come out”.

Turnout in this extremely-unionist constituency increased from 53.6% in 2015 to 60.8% this time.

The UUP’s candidate for East Antrim had said at about midnight that it already looked clear that Mr Wilson would hold his seat.

John Stewart, who was only elected to the Assembly a few months ago and is standing for the UUP in place of more experienced fellow MLA Roy Beggs said the UUP looks likely to just hold the roughly 18% or so that it achieved in the last general election in 2015.

Mr Stewart told the News Letter that, with about half the votes counted as of around midnight, it looks like “certainly Sammy Wilson will be holding his seat and his vote will be up on 2015”.

He said he had been chosen to contest the seat instead of Roy Beggs, to offer “a fresher face” and to raise his profile.

For more on the past political make-up of East Antrim, see the figures in THIS STORY.