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Labour's Rosie Duffield makes history in Canterbury - but who is she?

By Alex Claridge

The sea of blue which has extended across the parliamentary maps of Kent at the last two elections is no more.

A red island now protrudes from the waters after Labour's Rosie Duffield pulled off the single biggest political shock the Canterbury and Whitstable constituency has ever seen.

Ms Duffield's 187-vote win over Sir Julian Brazier ended his 30 years as an MP and broke the Conservatives' grip on the seat - long regarded as "true blue".

Rosie Duffield enjoys a glass of champagne after becoming Canterbury and Whitstable's first Labour MP.

Rosie Duffield enjoys a glass of champagne after becoming Canterbury and Whitstable's first Labour MP.

But just over a month ago she was unheard of, except outside the city's Labour Party circles.

The 45-year-old is a mother-of-two who lives in central Canterbury. Until a year ago she had been a teaching assistant, but gave that up to concentrate on writing political satire.

The team she has been working for is moving on to producing a pilot tv show.

Labour's Rosie Duffield defeated Sir Julian Brazier by 187 votes.

Labour's Rosie Duffield defeated Sir Julian Brazier by 187 votes.

"That project is just coming to an end and I was wondering what I would do for a job now," Ms Duffield said.

"Well now it appears I have one. I'm going to make the NHS a priority. We have a hospital in Canterbury to save and I'll be looking at the fate of the urgent care centre.

"Health was a theme of the election. Every day we heard about. People are really worried about the health service. They were also worried about the hard Brexit that Sir Julian supported.

"This seat has been Conservative for so long. I'm in shock."

Labour candidate Rosie Duffield was joined by Henry Stanton of the Green Party, Lib Dem James Flanagan and Conservative Sir Julian Brazier,

Labour candidate Rosie Duffield was joined by Henry Stanton of the Green Party, Lib Dem James Flanagan and Conservative Sir Julian Brazier,

Ms Duffield doubled Labour votes from 2015, polling 25,572 - enough to beat Sir Julian by 187.

Lib Dem James Flanagan received 4,561 while Green Henry Stanton received 1,282.

Ms Duffield, who moved to Canterbury in 1998, she stood in the Canterbury City Council election of 2015 when she lost to the Conservatives in St Stephen's.

Labour candidate Rosie Duffield. Picture Chris Davey

Labour candidate Rosie Duffield. Picture: Chris Davey

Asked to explain yesterday's victory, Ms Duffield said: "We have had a lot of young people coming over to Labour.

"There were also older people coming over who are just sick of what the Tories have been doing on issues such as health.

"It's still a shock though and I'm trying to understand it."

Ms Duffield's campaign was bolstered by the visit of Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry on Friday.

Labour supporters gathered in the city centre close to a busker singing Bob Dylan's The Times They Are A Changin'.

Now it's official: the times have changed.

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