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General Election 2019: Maidstone and the Weald result

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After weeks of campaigning, voters have now decided who they want to represent them in parliament following the first December General Election since 1923.

The Conservative Helen Grant was elected MP for Maidstone and the Weald for a fourth time, after polling 31,220 votes - a majority of 21,772.

Maidstone and the Weald results
Maidstone and the Weald results

It represents an increased cushion on that which she won in the 2017 election, when her majority was 17,704, and was met with applause and cries of 'wow' from her camp.

The Tory finished comfortably ahead of Labour's Dan Wilkinson, who won 9,448 votes, James Willis of the Lib Dems with 8,482 and Stuart Jeffery from the Green Party who collected 2,172.

The independent Yolande Kenward won 358 votes as the result was declared at 3.50am.

Speaking after her victory, Mrs Grant said: "I think many people were tired of the uncertainty, that's what I was hearing when I knocked on the door, there were many people who said 'Helen, we've not voted for you before, we've voted Labour in the past but we want to leave the EU' or 'we have a difficulty with Jeremy Corbyn'.

"Many people love Boris [Johnson], they like his leadership and hopefully people have got used to me as the MP and want me to continue doing the work I've been doing for them.

The Maidstone and the Weald result is announced
The Maidstone and the Weald result is announced

"It's been a frustration for many of us that Brexit dominates in parliament and I was sent to Westminster to focus on things like improving our schools, investing in our NHS, tackling crime and the fear of crime, looking after our environment.

"All of these things I want to get on with, but we have to get Brexit done."

Our reporter Tom Pyman has been at the count at the Kent Event Centre in Detling, providing updates via the @KM_Newsroom and @TomPymanKM Twitter accounts.

It was always going to be a long night, as proved by Liberal Democrat candidate James Willis, who had two cups of coffee on the go simultaneously as early as midnight.

Turnout for the constituency has been confirmed as 68%, with votes being counted by 16 teams of six assistants, each with a supervisor, from some 51 ballot boxes.

Lib Dem James Willis and his two cups of coffee
Lib Dem James Willis and his two cups of coffee

Votes are initially verified and then there are two further stages where polling papers are first counted into batches of 100 and then separated into how the votes were cast.

Mrs Grant was joined at the count by the three other party-backed challengers but Mrs Kenward was not present for the declaration.

Mr Wilkinson, his arm still in a sling after an accident while canvassing, said: "It looks like a disappointing night nationally and lessons will have to be learnt, but locally we may have achieved our aim of second place, which would be a reward for the hard work all our activists have put in."

On whether Jeremy Corbyn's future as leader was now under threat, he said: "There will have to be a rethink once we know the full extent of the result and whether the exit poll was correct or not.

"Whatever happens, the party will survive."

Counting in progress at the Kent Event Centre in Detling
Counting in progress at the Kent Event Centre in Detling

Mr Wilkinson also suggested a campaign of "misinformation" in the media had contributed to Labour's apparent struggles in the days leading up to the election.

Asked if she had regrets over the nature of the campaign, Mrs Grant said: "All I can really comment on is how it was here and it was a fairly fought campaign, very good natured and all of us candidates got on extremely well."

Mr Willis, who received some 7,000 more votes than when he stood for the party in Gravesham in the last election, added: "Putting Brexit to one side, I think what people want is an MP who is truly enthusiastic about the County Town.

"Let's hope that's what they've got."

Mr Jeffery, sporting a t-shirt with a message calling for proportional representation, also more than doubled his number of votes.

Follow our live blog for details on the results across Kent as they come in.

To see who was elected in Maidstone and the Weald in 2017, click here.

For all other General Election news, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone

Read more: All the latest news from Weald


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