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Amber Rudd acknowledges victory before the cameras at Horntye sports hall (photo: Kevin Boorman).

Amber Rudd acknowledges victory before the cameras at Horntye sports hall (photo: Kevin Boorman).

Rudd retains seat with slim majority

No change in Hastings & Rye – but it was a close-run contest, with sitting MP Amber Rudd just retaining her seat as Labour’s Peter Chowney reversed his party’s 2015 decline with a vengeance. The smaller parties found themselves squeezed. Nick Terdre reports on the general election results.

The Conservatives’ Amber Rudd held Hastings & Rye with an improved vote, up by 2,982 on 2015, but a greatly reduced majority, down by 4,450. Her margin of victory – 346 votes – was close enough to warrant a recount.

Meanwhile Peter Chowney lifted Labour’s vote by 7,432 as voters dispelled any notion of election fatigue and took to the polls in large numbers, with turnout rising to 70% from 67.8%.

Here are the results in full.

Amber Rudd (Con)                       25,668               (46.8%)
Peter Chowney (Lab)                   25,322               (46.2%)
Nick Perry (LibDem)                     1,885                 (3.4%)
Michael Phillips (Ukip)                  1,479                 (2.7%)
Nicholas Wilson (independent)       412                 (0.8%)

The results in Hastings & Rye largely mirrored what happened in the country as a whole, with an increased Tory vote alongside a Labour surge.

Electoral pact

The anti-Tory vote also benefited from the formation of progressive alliances. In Hastings & Rye, the Green Party candidate stood down in favour of Labour after the two sides made an agreement on several key policies. Efforts to turn out young, first-time voters also influenced the result.

“The agreement with the Greens helped us a lot – not only asking their supporters to vote for us, but also coming out canvassing for me too,” Mr Chowney told HOT. “And yes, there were a lot of young people voting for the first time, and helping with the campaign too. That was wonderful to see.”

Amid speculation that Theresa May might have to step down as prime minister following the loss of the Tories’ overall majority, Ms Rudd, currently Home Secretary, has been mentioned as a possible replacement. But her slim majority could make her a risky choice.

Smaller parties suffer

The increased votes for the two main parties spelt bad news for the smaller ones. There was no strong recovery for the Liberal Democrats, as Nick Perry lifted his 2015 tally by just 271 votes. However, the LibDems’ sights were mainly set on winning back seats lost to the Tories in Eastbourne and Lewes – they were successful in the first but not the second.

“I was very glad to see Stephen Lloyd win in Eastbourne but sorry for my colleagues in Lewes,” said Mr Perry. “Honestly, if we want fewer Tories at Westminster, the parties do need to work in a smarter way.

“I should congratulate Amber. I hope she will return to being a pro-European voice in Parliament.”

It was the UK Independence Party which suffered most, with support for Michael Phillips, at 1,479, collapsing by almost four fifths compared with Andrew Michael’s 6,786 two years ago.

Anti-corruption candidate “proud”

The independent anti-corruption candidate, Nicholas Wilson, received just 412 votes, but was pleased with his effort. “I am proud of my campaign,” he told HOT. “I exposed fraud, corruption and censorship, and many people have told me I have opened their eyes to what is going on. I think I managed to significantly reduce Rudd’s count.

“I think it’s a tragedy that Rudd was re-elected but with my continued work on corruption, I’m confident the continued exposures will finish the Tories.”

There may be differing opinions as to whether Mr Wilson took votes primarily from the Tories.

Comments have also been invited from Ms Rudd and Mr Phillips. If and when they arrive, they will be added to the article.

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Posted 17:11 Friday, Jun 9, 2017 In: Election 2017

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