This is how The Guardian is reporting the exit polls from the UK general election.
Do the math. If this prediction holds, the Tories’ 314 seats exactly equals the combined total of Labour’s 266, the Lib Dems’ 14 and the Scottish Nationalists’ 34. That leaves 22 seats, eighteen of which are in Northern Ireland and they will be divided between the DUP, other Unionists, the SDLP and Sinn Fein.
The other 22 will, if this scenario unfolds, thus hold the balance of power at Westminster. Sinn Fein won four seats in 2015 and this time may win more. The DUP had eight seats, the SDLP 3 and the Ulster Unionists, two with one ‘other’. That may all change however when the votes are counted.
With political power so finely balanced can Sinn Fein afford not to attend the House of Commons, oath of allegiance to the Crown notwithstanding? Helping out their old mucker Jeremy Corbyn may bring SF all sorts of unexpected prizes; refusing to take part, on the other hand, could be badly penalised, especially if by so doing the DUP become king, or should that be queen-makers?
And another question pops up. Gerry Adams is due to retire, so the jungle drums tell us, sometime in the autumn. If there is a hung parliament, with all the possibilities that may flow from that, will he be tempted to stay on? Even arrange a sudden by-election in West Belfast?