Sinn Féin MPs don't take their seats in Westminster. Photo: Flickr/Sinn Féin
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Why don’t Irish MPs sit in parliament?

Sinn Féin abstains.

Sinn Féin is an Irish republican political party active in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Its central aim is for a united Ireland. It opposes Westminster’s jurisdiction in Northern Ireland, and its oath to the Queen, so its MPs abstain from sitting in parliament.

It currently has five seats in Westminster, all of them abstentionist. The five MPs work for their constituents, and every so often visit Westminster to use its facilities and meet with government ministers, but refuse to sit in an institution they do not see as legitimate.

There have been suggestions that the Sinn Féin MPs would take their seats to counterbalance a government propped up by the DUP (a unionist Northern Ireland party) MPs. But Sinn Féin denies this.

The DUP has eight MPs who sit in parliament, and could prop up a Tory minority government. Then there’s the SDLP, an Irish nationalist party in Northern Ireland, whose three MPs sit in parliament. They generally vote with Labour.

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader. Getty
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Can Jeremy Corbyn win the 2017 general election?

Does the Labour leader have a chance of becoming prime minister?

 

After less than two years as Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn is leading the party into a snap general election. This isn’t the first vote of national significance since his election, however, since he was in office during the 2016 EU referendum.

It’s also not his first serious challenge: after the Brexit vote, his MPs voted “no confidence” in him and Owen Smith challenged him for the leadership. Corbyn saw off that threat to his position convincingly, so can he pull out another electoral triumph and become prime minister?

Can Jeremy Corbyn become prime minister? The polls

Since May 2015, the Conservative Party has consistently led in the polls. The latest polls gives Labour ratings in the mid-20s, while the Conservatives are on the mid-40s – numbers which, if borne out at the polls, would give Labour its worst result since 1935.

But should we believe the general election polls? Glen O’Hara, professor of modern and contemporary history at Oxford Brookes University, points out that the polls have been wrong before, and could be overstating Labour’s collapse. However, a 20-point gap is far outside the margin of error. A Corbyn win would be an unprecedented upset.

Can Jeremy Corbyn become prime minister? Electoral record

At the 2016 local elections, Labour did not gain any councils and lost 18 seats and 4% of the vote. James Schneider, the co-founder of Momentum who is now Corbyn’s head of strategic communications, said this showed Labour was on the right trajectory, but it’s a disappointment for an opposition to make no gains. And at the Copeland by-election this February, Labour lost the seat to the Tories – the first government gain in a by-election since 1982.

Can  Jeremy Corbyn become prime minister? The verdict

Jeremy Corbyn’s path to power would be one of the greatest surprises in British politics. But unlikely doesn’t mean impossible. It would take some extraordinary events, but it could happen. Check out the latest odds to see how the markets rate his chances.

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