Published: 07:23, 13 December 2019
| Updated: 11:22, 15 December 2019
The Conservatives have held the three Medway constituencies extending their majorities by huge amounts.
It was a disastrous night for Labour – both nationally and in the Towns – as the Tories swept to victory.
The first result declared was Rochester and Strood at 4.24am with Kelly Tolhurst polling 31,151 votes.
She achieved a majority of 17,072 – extending 2017 advantage by 7,222 votes.
She said: “I’m very lucky, I’ve be re-elected as the MP for the place where I was born and bred.
“I love this place, so for me it’s very personal and I’ve worked every hour to try and maintain the seat.”
“People want to move onto the main priorities that affect our every day lives.
“They want to see us deliver Brexit and then move on to those key things like getting more police on our streets, improving our NHS, getting more GPs working here locally, improving our infrastructure and these are things I got into politics for and I know that are just as important to our residents as Brexit is.”
Tracey Crouch – standing in Chatham and Aylesford – performed even better, increasing her majority by 8,082 votes to 18,540.
She said: “This constituency voted very strongly to leave the EU and I think it expects us to leave the EU; I share the frustration of many residents that we haven’t yet done that.
“We have dithered over our exit of the EU and so now we have the opportunity with a majority in Westminster to do that."
She commended candidates running against her for what she called a “clean campaign”, saying: “I get on very well with many of the local Labour councillors; we work together on issues that matter to residents.
“It’s important you do have that relationship and as a consequence, we don’t necessarily have the same level of nastiness that other constituencies face.”
Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti took 61.3% of the vote, upping his majority by 5,689 votes with a total of 28,173.
He said: “The result we have tonight quite clearly shows local electors support their local member of parliament, we have got the support here for nine and a half years, and they want to get national issues resolved.
“They want to get Brexit done and they see Boris Johnson, as the man who can deliver that and great investment in health, education; that’s what this Conservative government will now do.
Labour came second in each constituency losing ground on the Tories and it was a bad night for the party, losing more than 60 seats across the country.
Vince Maple, Labour's candidate in Chatham and Aylesford and the opposition leader at Medway Council, reflected on a horrific result for his party.
He said: “I think we had a positive campaign across all three Medway constituencies.
“British politics is run by volunteers; people who have given up their time two weeks before Christmas to get out there to try and sell their vision for Britain, their vision for the Medway Towns, Chatham and Aylesford.
“Regrettably tonight, that wasn’t what the public voted for but we will still be here fighting hard for every resident who needs the support of Labour representation.
"These seats in Medway have been Labour in the past, they can be Labour again."
He said the party needs "a short period of reflection" but it would be "wrong to put a timescale" on future of the leadership after leader Jeremy Corbyn announced he will not be leading Labour into another election.
Cllr Andy Stamp (Lab) said Brexit dominated during his campaign in Gillingham and Rainham.
The ward councillor for Gillingham North said: "Clearly there was an underlying issue and that was Brexit.
“That has been the dominant feature of this election and that's ultimately decided the outcome of this election despite their concerns about the NHS, despite their concerns about education, despite the fact that record numbers of people are having to use food banks, the number of rough sleepers has more than doubled over the last nine years, the fact that record numbers of children are living in poverty.
"All of those issues are still there regardless of whether Brexit was an issue or not."
Cllr Maple added: "I think they have been duped by the phrase 'get Brexit done'.
"People were taken in by that phrase but I say Johnson will find that difficult to deliver."
Miss Tolhurst took 59.9% of the vote and Miss Crouch gained 66.5% on 28,856 votes.
Turnout figures were down compared to the last election in 2017.
In Chatham and Aylesford it was 60.7%, in Gillingham and Rainham it was 61.3% and in Rochester and Strood the figure was 63.5%.
More by this authorMatt Leclere