The three nationalist parties of the UK

What do Plaid Cymru, Sinn Féin and the Scottish National Party have in common?

They are the three nationalist parties of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. They held 61 seats combined until the dissolution of the 56th Parliament of the United Kingdom. That is nearly 10 per cent of all the seats in Westminster.

Plaid Cymru

Leader: Leanne Wood

The Welsh nationalist party was formed in 1925 and has advocated for Welsh independence from the UK.

Plaid Cymru campaigns for a soft Brexit. Their manifesto says Plaid will fight to get the healthcare money promised during the referendum campaign and defend the rights of Europeans living and working in Wales.

The centre-left party also supports lowering the voting age to 16 and insists on some level of Welsh self-determination — such as allowing Wales to set and levy its own tax rate. Plaid opposes Tory policies that would take power away from the Welsh national assembly.  

Plaid Cymru held three out of 40 Welsh seats during the last Parliament.


Sinn Féin

Leader: Gerry Adams

The Irish republican party was founded in 1905 and since its inception has been dedicated to the unification of Ireland.

They are a social democratic party, who advocate for a “designated special status” for Ireland and Northern Ireland within the EU. This special status would keep the open border between the two and include the North in the customs union – a free trade agreement of which the UK may no longer be a part after Brexit.

The party, whose name translates to “we ourselves”, also advocates for increased healthcare spending, building more affordable houses, opposing Tory spending cuts (in Northern Ireland) and fiscal austerity.

Sinn Féin held four out of 18 Northern Irish seats during the last Parliament.

It is one of the few major political parties in the world to operate in two states simultaneously having seats in both the UK parliament and that of the Republic of Ireland. In the 2015 UK General Election, the party won four out of 18 Westminster seats in Northern Ireland. In 2016, Sinn Fein took 23 out of 158 seats in the Republic’s Dáil Éireann



Leader: Nicola Sturgeon

The Scottish National Party is centre-left and supports the Scottish independence movement. It was the third largest party in Parliament during the last session.

Founded in 1934, the party has historically adhered to the European social democratic tradition and remains vehemently pro-European. Members of the party are demanding the go ahead from Westminster to hold a second independence referendum in order to rejoin the EU. In 2014, 55.3 per cent of Scots voted to remain in the UK.

In the SNP election manifesto, the party pledges to oppose Tory austerity measures and prevent them from cutting Scotland’s budget. The party also wants to bring Scotland the power to set its own tax rates and lower the voting age to 16.  

The SNP held 54 of 59 Scottish seats during the last Parliament.   

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