General Election 2019: candidates’ reactions on the night

Results for the Reigate constituency being announced (photo: reigate.uk)

Political parties and candidates assembled at Donyngs Leisure Centre in the early hours of Friday 13 December to learn the results of the General Election in Reigate.

Conservative candidate Crispin Blunt was re-elected as MP with 53.9% of the vote.

The Conservative, Labour and UKIP vote share fell in the constituency, while the Lib Dems and the Greens gained votes.

The parties ended up in the same order as in 2017: Labour second, the Lib Dems third, Greens fourth and UKIP fifth.

Below are the results and reactions from the candidates on the night

Reigate - General Election results 2019

NamePartyVotesShare %Change
Crispin
BLUNT
Con28,66553.9-3.5
Susan
GREGORY
Lab10,35519.5-5.2
John
VINCENT
Lib Dem10,32019.4+8.5
Jonathan
ESSEX
Green3,1696.0+1.8
Julia
SEARLE
UKIP6471.2-1.6
Turnout: 72%

Conservative (Crispin Blunt)

Crispin Blunt’s speech (video: reigate.uk)

In his acceptance speech, Crispin Blunt welcomed news that the Conservatives would have a majority: “The overall conclusion is that our country is out of the hole that it was in, with a parliament that was blocking the Government acting in the interest of the United Kingdom.

“This is a huge day for our country, simply because we now have clarity about the direction we are going to take.  We’ve immensely reinforced the negotiating hand of the Government in concluding the Brexit negotiations with the European Union.”

He added that a trust had been placed in him and the Conservatives to “make our country proud of its new role in the world once we leave the European Union”.

Blunt is a member of the Eurosceptic European Research Group, and played his own role in blocking the Government in the last parliament.  At various times he attacked Theresa May’s EU withdrawal deal and argued for a no-deal Brexit.   However, he was later supportive of Theresa May’s deal, as well as Boris Johnson’s.

In his speech Blunt also urged people to support the new Reigate & Banstead Community Fund, a body that can make grants for good causes and which was set up this year in a charity/council/community partnership.

In a subsequent blog post he also highlighted other priorities such as infrastructure, protecting the green belt, and NHS and social care improvements including at Epsom and St Helier (just north of the constituency).

More information on the local Conservative Party can be found on their website.

Labour (Susan Gregory)

Susan Gregory (photo from Labour website)

Despite a fall in the Labour share of the vote, the party was able to retain second place, fending off a challenge by the Lib Dems by just 35 votes.

Labour’s candidate Susan Gregory told reigate.uk after the result: “I’m disappointed not to have closed the gap on Crispin’s vote share.  I think it’s representative of the divide within our community and representative of our current voting system.

“I’ve heard many local voters who are disenfranchised and disengaged and very concerned about who they should be voting for, with their wanting to get Blunt out, and not knowing how best to do that.”

She said she was “hugely happy” with the way the campaign had gone, and that there had been “some great conversations” with local voters.

“I think our policies have landed really well.  I think people are positive about our policies and the direction we intended to go in.  However the uncertainty of how to unseat a safe Tory seat has played out in the result.”

She said that locally she would continue to campaign on NHS services in Epsom and St Helier, where changes could have a knock-on impact in the Reigate constituency, as well as standard of living issues.

“It shocks me that in this very wealthy constituency we have numerous foodbanks, we have many people in work in poverty, we have our schools requesting funding from parents.

“Those basic human requirements are not being met even within this wealthy constituency, and that needs to be addressed and addressed urgently.”

More information on the local Labour Party can be found on their website.

Liberal Democrats (John Vincent)

John Vincent (photo: reigate.uk)

For the Lib Dems, candidate John Vincent, speaking as the Reigate result was being counted, said he was disappointed with the national picture emerging.

“It is a difficult situation because it seems that the message the Conservatives put out about ‘Get It Done’, a simple slogan, seems to have resonated with a good number of people.”

He had been hopeful of second place: “Crispin had 30,000 votes in 2017 and a certain percentage of those people are very unhappy.  And I think they are much more inclined to vote Lib Dem, as Remainers, than go all the way across to Corbyn.”

Asked about whether the Lib Dems should have formed an electoral pact with other parties in the constituency, Vincent said there had been Labour resistance to this nationally and that locally “we had no authority from our national party to stand down, and when you know the incumbent has more than 50% it’s really our duty to give the electorate the choice.”

He said that each of the Lib Dems, Labour and Green represented different political philosophies and “in a traditional election, we give the electorate the full spectrum of choices”.

On Brexit he said: “I think [former House of Commons speaker] Bercow got it right, it’s the biggest foreign policy mistake that we have made since the war.

“I believe you can be strong in Europe and strong in the rest of the world,” he said, dismissing the idea “that somehow we are inferior in Europe so we have to go and find a new future”.

He added: “Continental Europe will always affect us one way or another and we have to work together.  And we’re much stronger when we do work together, because our real competition is China and India.”

Asked whether the Lib Dems’ revoke policy (if they won a majority) was a mistake or not, Vincent said: “It seems the timing of that message was not quite right.

“Of course, knowledge with hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?  You can always say ‘that was wrong’.  But at the time it seemed it was a way of corralling the Remain vote, and ensuring our success in the election.

“It was also being very assertive, and I think Jo [Swinson] as a new leader had to stand out: you’ve got two old warhorses and she’s the fresh face.

“And I think we’ve learned a lot.  It maybe wasn’t the right message but [it’s] knowledge with hindsight.”

The party has three councillors on Reigate & Banstead Borough Council, and Vincent said they wanted to work with the Greens (who have six councillors) where they could.

Vincent said he wanted more done on recycling and charging points for cars, as part of decarbonising the local economy.

He said the party would also continue to work on local issues such as fixing potholes and roads, and addressing the continuing challenges facing rail commuters.

Vincent was a borough councillor in the 1990s, and stood in the Reigate ward in this year’s local elections.

More information on the local Liberal Democrats can be found on their website.

Green (Jonathan Essex)

 

Jonathan Essex (photo from Green Party website)

Jonathan Essex welcomed the fact that the Green Party’s vote had risen compared to the 2017 election.

Essex said that the party had campaigned for a people’s vote and to remain in the EU.  On local issues he said the focus would continue to be on three priorities: sorting out the “housing crisis” with a need for “truly affordable housing” (while protecting the green belt), properly funding public services (including more doctors and nurses), and addressing climate change.

He said that on these issues the Greens would be “pressing to hold Crispin and the Government to account both locally and in terms of what happens in Parliament.”

Essex is currently a county and borough councillor in Redhill.

More information on the local Green Party can be found on their website.

UKIP (Julia Searle)

Julia Searle (photo: reigate.uk)

UKIP’s candidate Julia Searle said during the counting of the votes that she was pleased with the prospect of a Conservative majority nationally, as it meant Brexit would happen.

“Brexit is very important for me and something I’m very passionate about: it’s just about getting the Brexit result done nicely and very clearly, because it should have been done three years ago.”

She said that UKIP had a role in the future in ensuring that Brexit promises were kept.

Locally, Searle said the party was keen to progress transport, and other local issues where she said people hadn’t been listened to over the years.

Among examples of environmental concerns, she listed single use plastics and protection of the Green Belt.

She said UKIP would work to ensure that Crispin Blunt had kept promises he had made on local issues and did not backtrack.

More information on UKIP can be found on their website.

 

The count (photo: reigate.uk)

 

Edited 27 Dec to correct a misspelling of “Blunt”.