NI Secretary: I didn’t know unionists do not vote for nationalists

The Northern Ireland Secretary has said she initially did not understand that the country’s nationalists did not vote for unionist parties during elections.

Karen Bradley was appointed earlier this year and admitted at the time she did not comprehend that campaigns are generally fought within each part of the community rather than across it, as in her own parliamentary constituency.

Karen Bradley

Karen Bradley

She also said she did not fathom some of the deep-rooted issues which define Northern Irish politics.

She told The House magazine: “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 election within their own community.

“Actually, the unionist parties fight the elections against each other in unionist communities and nationalists in nationalist communities.”

Ms Bradley was appointed in January after her predecessor James Brokenshire stepped aside for medical reasons.

She continued: “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.

“That is so incredibly different and it’s when you realise that, and you see that, that you can then start to understand some of the things that the politicians say and some of the rhetoric.”

She was interviewed by the weekly magazine for the Houses of Parliament.