By four on Friday morning we had the headlines and the detail of the election story here.
The counting showed a quiet mobilisation of the unionist vote in response to the Sinn Fein surge in the March Assembly Election.
Unionism had been shocked into doing something.
The DUP now has 10 MPs – Jim Shannon, Jeffrey Donaldson, Gregory Campbell, Paul Girvan, Gavin Robinson, Sammy Wilson, Ian Paisley, Nigel Dodds, Emma Little-Pengelly, and David Simpson.
Sinn Fein won seven seats, including in Foyle and South Down and Fermanagh South Tyrone.
The SDLP lost all three of its seats – the Ulster Unionists their two, leaving party leaders Colum Eastwood and Robin Swann looking like captains on sinking ships.
Sylvia Hermon kept her seat in North Down but with Alex Easton of the DUP much closer than expected in second.
In North Belfast the battle there was also close – Nigel Dodds 21,240 and John Finucane 19,159.
In East Belfast Gavin Robinson – quietly confident throughout the campaign – comfortably topped the poll. His total was 23,917 with Alliance leader Naomi Long on 15,443.
In Foyle just 169 votes separated first and second – Elisha McCallion getting to the line just ahead of Mark Durkan.
In the wider frame of the 18 constituencies, Arlene Foster described a “wake up call” after the March assembly elections.
What will these better numbers mean for the DUP at Westminster? We still don’t know.
What will the totals mean for the Stormont talks and the effort to restore the political institutions? Again, we don’t know.
This election, in the wide UK sense, has been much more interesting than was expected and predicted. Better for Corbyn than May.
Her gamble backfired.
Here, the DUP recovered and responded to the March shock. This is much better for Arlene Foster.
A big election also for Sinn Fein. But we may be no closer to a Stormont deal.
In this race, the SDLP, UUP and Alliance were way behind – to use a running description they were lapped several times.
The big two parties are becoming bigger.
But while the numbers have changed, the issues have not.
Soon it will be back to talks.
Given all the uncertainty at Westminster, how much of a priority will this place be?
With eighteen voices in Westminster, a Northern Ireland caucus could be a real force in securing a 21st century future for ALL our people. Surely the Sinn Féin leadership can see that a working dispensation from an ideological “principle” – based in enmity – is outweighed by THE NEED to serve the interests of the people whom they are supposed to represent.
There is no discernible evidence that ANY ideology puts a single penny in the public purse; the time is long past when politicians should supress their egotistical point scoring and begin to demonstrate whatever political acumen they might possess. The commentator who doubted the existence of “Statecraft” in Stormont has yet to be confounded.
Unionist vote in Wee Six is now at 46.07%. Nationalist vote is at 41.03%. SDLP demise will see North Belfast and Upper Bann go to SF next time. Time for Unioinism to get real. A shared Ireland which they can help to shape will be better than an inevitably reunited Ireland which still hasn’t managed to lance the sectarian boil.
There is an inexorability about the demographic change so clearly contained in the 2011 census, which unionists held back for almost a year and a half and which led to the short-lived Robinson overture to Catholics. Canutism, however, has reasserted itself within Unionism and now the DUP is duped into a false sense of resurgence when even the most obtuse should be able to read the writing on the wall.
The tories will drop them as soon as is expedient. Unionist like their erstwhile Sinn Féin Stormont partners need to accept that the days of Westminster and its relevance to Ireland are really numbered. Unionists’ future is in Ireland.