Oh dear. Although Karen Bradley is widely regarded as Theresa May’s closest ally in the Cabinet, Mr S hadn’t realised the lengths the Cabinet minister was willing to go to to take the heat from her boss. In an interview with the House magazine, the Northern Ireland secretary has confessed that prior to being handed the brief she didn’t know much about… Northern Ireland.
In fact, she didn’t know that ‘people who are nationalists don’t vote for unionist parties and vice-versa’:
‘I freely admit that when I started this job, I didn’t understand some of the deep-seated and deep-rooted issues that there are in Northern Ireland.
I didn’t understand things like when elections are fought for example in Northern Ireland – people who are nationalists don’t vote for unionist parties and vice-versa.
So, the parties fight for the election within their own community. Actually, the unionist parties fight the elections against each other in unionist communities and nationalists in nationalist communities.
That’s a very different world from the world I came from where in Staffordshire Moorlands I was fighting a Labour-held seat as a Conservative politician and I was trying to put forward why you would want to switch from voting Labour to voting Conservative.’
Mr S suspects this isn’t exactly what voters have in mind when they call for a higher degree of honesty in politics…