Tories face a ‘new challenge’, says Sir Bernard Jenkin
- Credit: JAKE FOXFORD
Conservative Sir Bernard Jenkin comfortably retained his Harwich and north Essex seat with his biggest majority in almost 30 years following the 2019 General Election.
A relaxed-looking Sir Bernard was announced as the winner at 2.45am on Friday morning with 31,830 votes, a dominant 61.3% share of the votes and a majority of 20,182.
Speaking after his victory Sir Bernard thanked his team and family, but recognised the size of the task ahead of him and his party now they had claimed a decisive majority.
"This hasn't been an easy campaign for candidates or voters," he said.
"Above all I thank the people of Harwich and north Essex, who have voted for me in larger numbers than I ever believed possible.
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"I think we have a new challenge. We have enjoyed support from some of the least privileged people in society in this election for the very first time.
"That brings with it a responsibility to deliver for those people. We must do so."
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He beat five other candidates for the seat, which was formed from parts of the Harwich and North Essex seats in 2010.
Labour's Stephen Rice was second with 11,648 votes, Liberal Democrat Mike Beckett was third with 5,866 votes and Green Peter Banks was fourth with 1,945 votes.
Christian Independent Tony Francis came fifth with 411 votes and Independent candidate Richard Browning-Smith won 263 votes.
The turnout was slightly lower than the 2017 election, down 1.2% to 70.5%.
All five losing candidates were standing for the first time in a general election, with Liberal Democrat Mr Beckett putting himself in the running after years in charge of the Colchester Food Bank, which helps feed those in need across north Essex.
Mr Beckett said: "I wouldn't have stood if everything in politics was working perfectly, I would have stuck to charity work and done good there.
"On the doorstep people were telling us they were undecided, the tectonic plates had definitely moved and the voters felt very disengaged.
"But we took the time to visit all the villages in the constituency because we knew how important this election was."
One Independent candidate, Richard Browning-Smith, was unfazed by Sir Bernard's win.
"I'm glad to see him get an even bigger majority," Mr Browning-Smith said.
"I think the Conservative majority will mean they can finally get on with Brexit.
"Politicians have not gotten anywhere in the last three years, so it's good news that this mess might be sorted out.
"Brexit was really the thing that divided people, especially when I was canvassing in the pub.
"All it took was one leaver and one remainer and they would be shouting at each other."