Published: 07:00, 08 June 2017 |
Updated: 08:56, 12 June 2017
Labour's Rosie Duffield has delivered the single biggest political shock the Canterbury and Whitstable constituency has ever seen.
Ms Duffield picked up double the votes her party did in 2015 with 25,572 – beating Conservative Sir Julian Brazier's 25,385 by just 187 votes.
The 45-year-old mother-of-two overturned Sir Julian's near 10,000 majority, ending his 30-year tenure as MP and the Conservatives' hold on the seat which has been unbroken for more than a century.
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Ms Duffield said: "I am hugely shocked.
"Thank you so much to the Canterbury district - we have made history.
"There has been 176 years of the Conservative party here and we have just broken that record."
Ms Duffield saw her campaign galvanised by the visit of Labour heavyweight Emily Thornberry to Canterbury last week.
Turn-out was an impressive 72.77% this year, up from 65.98% in 2015.
Ms Duffield added: “We really hoped we had a chance of narrowing the majority of 9,000 but none of us had any clue that we would actually break it.
“I am in shock but very excited, extremely happy and incredibly grateful to all of the people who lent me their vote.
“I really hope we can have a change here and that people who feel they haven’t been represented can finally have a voice in parliament.”
A result was originally expected at 3am on Friday morning, but the Conservatives called for a recount after Labour won a provisional vote by less than 200.
Sir Julian attributed his loss partly to an increased number of student voters in the constituency. The number of registered voters rose by 10% from 2015.
He said: “I think the largest factor was the very large number of students.
“They were actually on holiday at the last election and this constituency voted for Remain and a huge number of students registered between the EU referendum and polling day.
“They voted in very large numbers and in a large part, I think, because of the referendum result.
"I think the largest factor was the very large number of students..." - Sir Julian Brazier
“I would like to congratulate Rosie on her victory and take this opportunity to thank the people of Canterbury for putting up with me for 30 years in the House of Commons.
“It is obviously disappointing but I have enjoyed the last 30 years and it has been a tremendous experience.”
According to the Guinness Book of Records, the previous Tory monopolisation was the longest uninterrupted period for a party to hold a seat.
Lib Dem candidate James Flanagan picked up 4,561 votes, with the Green Party's Henry Stanton taking 1,282.
Earlier in the evening, a by-election was held in the city’s Westgate ward following the resignation of Conservative John Brazier, Sir Julian’s son.
It was won by Labour’s Simon Warley who pulled 1,761 votes ahead of Daniel Prevett (Lib Dem) with 978.
Luke Whiddett was third for the Conservatives with 929 votes, while Henry Stanton of the Greens, who was also standing in the general election, took 389.
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