ALL three Conservatives easily held their seats in the New Forest and Christchurch as election results saw Boris Johnson sweep to a big majority last night.
Mr Johnson will control the Commons with a majority of just under 80 as Labour were reduced to a little over 200 MPs and the Liberal Democrats to around a dozen.
Sir Desmond won by a majority of 24,403 over Liberal Democrat runner-up Jack Davies, saying he was “very pleased” and that the result was a vindication of Brexit.
“There’s nothing worse than the dithering of a hung parliament where nothing can be agreed,” said Sir Desmond, who has been MP since 1997.
“But a majority government will be a hugely improved situation – just look at what has happened to the pound tonight.” Sterling was reported to have risen against the dollar on news of Mr Johnson’s victory.
Dr Lewis, also an MP since 1997, beat Labour’s Julie Hope into second place with a majority of 25,251. Liberal Democrat Bob Johnston was third.
Dr Lewis used his victory to call on Labour to shake up its act: “I believe the result shows that the public expects the result of the EU referendum to finally be honoured.
“It also sends a message to the Labour party that when it veers towards the hard left it loses its mainstream support.
“So for the welfare of the party system in the future I hope the next leader of the Labour party will be someone who represents the moderate mainstream of traditional Labour values and beliefs.”
Both New Forest Tories increased their numerical majorities. Sir Desmond by 972 votes and Dr Lewis by 3,256.
In Christchurch Sir Chris won with 33,984 votes, beating into distant second Liberal Democrat Mike Cox with 9,277.
Sir Chris had to overcome an internal row at the start of his campaign in which the deputy chair of his local party, Rhys Gadsby resigned. However, his majority shrank only slightly by 554 votes.
The MP, who was first elected to the constituency in 1997, said last night that the outcome was “a huge vote of confidence in the Prime Minister”.
The New Forest results from Applemore leisure centre were announced at 2.10am for New Forest East and at 2.50am for New Forest West – the fastest count in the history of the two constituencies.
Run by the district council, the operation involved tallying around 9,000 postal votes. The furthest distance for a ballot box to be carried to the count was just over 26 miles from Breamore.
By law, the council must keep all ballots for a year before disposal – when they are recycled into products including toilet paper.
Defeated candidates react
Candidates in both New Forest constituencies reported that on the doorsteps Brexit and the relative qualities of Mr Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn were among the most common topics. Local issues, such as housing and the living standards, were also prevalent.
Nick Bubb (Green, New Forest West) told the A&T: “Hopefully we have managed to put the state of the environment at the forefront of their minds. Politics has attracted a certain type of professional person but we really hope people of a local character now feel as though they can come forward.”
Jack Davies (Liberal Democrat, New Forest West) said: “I will make sure that [Sir Desmond] fights for local government funding, public services and an evidence-based, and not just an ideological, approach to Brexit.”
Jo Graham (Labour, New Forest West) said: “The main issues that came up locally were particularly food banks and their growing use locally – it emerged especially in Fordingbridge that use of their food bank has increased by more than 60% in the last six months.”
Bob Johnston (Liberal Democrat, New Forest East) said: “This is the Conservatives’ night tonight but I think it might be a false dawn. They might get Brexit done but we’ll see how the situation is six months down the road.”
Nicola Jolly (Green, New Forest East) said: “It was great to see so much warmth towards the Green Party and its manifesto. It’s a shame we have a system that does not reflect that in the way of its representation.”
Andrew Knight (Animal Welfare Party, New Forest East) said: “We may have lost by many thousands of votes but we achieved what we set out to do – namely, raising the profile of animal equality and making sure people are aware of that.”
New Forest West
- Desmond Swayne (Conservative): 32,113 votes
- Jack Davies (Liberal Democrat) 7,710
- Jo Graham (Labour): 6,595
- Nicholas Bubb (Green): 3,888
Conservative majority: 24,403
New Forest East
- Julian Lewis (Conservative): 32,769
- Julie Hope (Labour): 7,518
- Bob Johnston (Liberal Democrat): 7,390
- Nicola Jolly (Green): 2,434
- Andrew Knight (Animal Welfare Party): 675
Conservative majority: 25,251
- Sir Chris Chope (Conservative): 33,894
- Mike Cox (Liberal Democrat): 9,277
- Andrew Dunne (Labour): 6,568
- Chris Rigby (Green): 2,212
Conservative majority: 24,617