Written by Emma Wilson
Senior Account Executive
What a difference a campaign makes. When Theresa May called the snap election back in April, she did so in the full confidence that the Conservatives would return with an overwhelming majority, spurred on by the previous weekend’s polls. Seven weeks later, hardly anyone could believe it when the exit polls indicated a hung parliament. Nine seats short of an overall majority, and one week away from the beginning of Brexit negotiations, Mrs May has difficult days ahead.
Remarkable Group’s Northern Office have put together a cheat sheet on the results you need to know: from the national picture, to the North West, North East & Yorkshire, and the Midlands.
The National Picture
The Conservatives have secured 318 seats, yet short of a majority by eight. Labour finished on 262 seats, while the SNP have been left with 35 seats in the House of Commons. The Liberal Democrats have 12 seats, Plaid Cymru has four, the Greens have one, and UKIP hasn’t won any seats.
There were a number of big scalps and close scares throughout the night. Former Liberal Democrat Leader and former Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, lost his Sheffield Hallam seat. Meanwhile, both former First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, and SNP Leader in Westminster, Angus Robertson, were unseated in Scotland.
Seven Conservative ministers were among those who lost out. These include Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell in Croydon Central, who has returned to Mrs May’s Cabinet as Chief of Staff. Ben Gummer, who authored the Conservative manifesto and was tipped by some to become Brexit secretary, lost his Ipswich seat, whilst Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, who deputised in the BBC election debate on behalf of Mrs May, clung on to Hastings & Rye, by just 346 votes.
Notable comebacks include the Liberal Democrat and former coalition-time Business Secretary, Vince Cable, who regained the Twickenham seat he lost in 2015. Conservative candidate for Mayor of London in 2016, Zac Goldsmith has made a return as Richmond Park MP after two recounts. Elsewhere in London, Kensington became the last constituency to declare on Friday night, with Labour winning by 20 votes after several recounts.
With the DUP taking ten seats, it allows them to prop up a Conservative minority government, making them king-makers in Parliament. The DUP are extremely socially conservative, support the renewal of Trident and backed Brexit - seemingly a good fit for the Conservatives. However, they have always voted against Tory welfare cuts and are unlikely to change their position. With the Queen’s Speech expected to be delayed, doubts have been cast over whether a suitable agreement between the Tories and the DUP can be found.
Given that the Tories made large gains at the recent local elections in the North West, many envisaged the Conservatives snatching marginal seats such as Bury South from Labour’s grasp. This was to no avail, with Labour predominately holding and increasing their majorities in what were supposedly key ‘target’ seats.
Perhaps the most noticeable change in the North West came from the South, with Labour gaining three seats in Cheshire. The Labour Party gained target seats in Weaver Vale, Warrington South and Crewe & Nantwich. Labour also increased its majority from 93 to 9,176 in marginal constituency Chester, which was declared as one of the most targeted seats during the election campaign by the Conservatives. The same can be said of Lancaster, a seat which Labour set out to defend with all their might, ended up achieving an increased majority of 6,661.
Other noticeable results were witnessed in Bury North, with Labour candidate James Frith taking the seat from Conservative David Nuttall with 25,683 votes, a swing of 5%. On a positive note for the Conservatives, they gained Southport from the Liberal Democrats who had previously held the seat for almost two decades under retired Liberal Democrat, John Pugh.
In sum, and despite making considerable gains in the local elections just last month, the Conservatives lost a total of four seats in the North West, with Labour losing none. The Liberal Democrats were the only other party to lose a seat with the Conservatives gaining the Southport constituency. Seats that had been considered marginals, such as Lancaster and Bury North, ended up with comfortable majorities for Labour, with many political pundits proven wrong in what were supposedly heavily-targeted and winnable seats for the Conservatives.
Yorkshire & the North East
The region followed the national trend fairly closely, with increased vote shares for Labour and the Conservatives.There were very few shocks in the region once the ballots were counted, in fact the North East returned all seats to the same party which represented them before the election. The Liberal Democrats did not fare particularly well, losing their deposit in 21 of the 29 seats they contested in the area.
Yorkshire threw up some unexpected changes, Nick Clegg, the former Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader lost his seat to Labour’s Jared O’Mara. There has been speculation that Sheffield’s large student population has not forgiven Clegg for his U-turn on tuition fees and punished him at the ballot box. Although the Conservative vote nearly doubled, which helped Labour take the seat. The Lib Dems also lost Leeds North West to Labour.
Keighly & Ilkely in West Yorkshire saw a change from to blue to red as Labour’s John Grogan took the seat from Conservative Kris Hopkins with a majority of just 249, with 0.5 % of the votes between them.
Hull West & Hessle also has a new MP due to prominent Labour politician Alan Johnson stepping down after 20 years representing the area. Emma Hardy of the Labour Party took 53.1% of the vote, increasing the vote share for the party by 3.9% compared to 2015.
Following the surprising victory of Andy Street in the West Midlands mayoral election in May, many were expecting the General Election to be a game-changer in the region. However, there were few swings, and most marginals retained by Labour.
Labour gained Warwick & Leamington from the Conservatives, whilst Stoke-on-Trent South and Walsall North shifted from red to blue. Dudley North was held by Labour with a mere 22-vote majority; and despite Keele University students claiming they were turned away from the polls in their hundreds, Labour also held Newcastle-under-Lyme, but by just 30 votes. Other notable results were in West Bromwich East, where Labour’s Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, comfortably won; and Birmingham Edgbaston, who elected the country’s first female Sikh MP, Preet Gill, following Gisela Stuart’s announcement to step down.
Overall, the election followed trends across the country: increased voter turnout, with smaller parties losing their share of the vote, resulting in gains for both Labour and Conservative in most constituencies. Though some saw the election of a Conservative mayor as an indication of an imminent Tory victory in the Midlands, these commentators seem to have misread the results of the mayoral election. Andy Street’s performance mainly rested on his running as an independent-style candidate, being more closely affiliated with John Lewis than he was with the Conservatives.
In summary, the results from the North and the Midlands reflects the national mood: increased voter turnout suggests an understanding that the next few years is extremely important, yet there is a lack of confidence in either larger party to take the helm for this period. This has been mirrored in the business world over the last few days, as the value of the pound has dramatically decreased since the release of the exit polls, and business leaders continue to raise concerns about the looming Brexit negotiations and inward investment.
Newly-elected MPs for the North, as well as the Metropolitan Mayors elected in May, must work hard to ensure that their regions, and the Northern Powerhouse, are not side-lined in the coming months.
Contrary to Mrs May’s hopes, this election raised more questions than it answers. Do the Conservatives have a mandate to lead the UK into Brexit negotiations? Will Mrs May be able to stay on as leader of the Tories? Will we see the formation of minority Government or a coalition? Are Brexit negotiations still on course to begin in a week’s time? The election result is only half the story.
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