Tories see off Ukip challenge to hold Newark

Published on Friday, 06 June 2014 09:39
Written by Daniel Mason

The Conservatives comfortably saw off the challenge of Ukip to hold the safe seat of Newark in yesterday's byelection, with Labour in third and the Liberal Democrats crashing to sixth place.

Robert Jenrick, the Tory candidate, beat his Ukip counterpart Roger Helmer by more than 7,000 votes on a turnout of almost 53% - high for a byelection.

While the Conservatives met expectations by winning the seat and Ukip continued their run of second places in byelections - more than halving the Tories' majority in the process - the Lib Dems crumbled to finish in sixth behind an independent candidate and the Greens.

David Cameron said it was a "good result" and the chancellor, George Osborne, called it a "strong endorsement" of the government's economic plan.

The election was triggered by the resignation of the previous Conservative MP Patrick Mercer over a cash-for-questions scandal.

Osborne told the BBC: "This is the first time in 25 years that the Conservative have held a byelection in government. We can take some comfort from this result but we know, of course, that the job is not done.

"We have to get out there and take our message to the other constituencies over the coming year."

The winning candidate, Jenrick, said in his victory speech: "I hope now that I can repay the faith and trust that the people of Newark have put in me as your new member of parliament - and in the months and years to come I can build a reputation as a strong and effective MP."

He claimed people had voted to back the government's "long-term economic plan to secure the future of this constituency and of this great country".

Despite failing to overturn the Tory majority, Ukip leader Nigel Farage described it as a "stunning campaign".

"We've been up against probably the biggest ever Conservative machine, defending their 40th safest seat in the country," he said. "If the indications are right, we'll be celebrating a massive advance for our party."

Meanwhile the Lib Dem candidate David Watts, who lost his deposit, claimed some of his party's supporters had switched allegiances to prevent Ukip getting in, or to back independent candidate Paul Baggaley's campaign around the local hospital.

For Labour, MP Chris Bryant argued that the result was not spectacular for the Conservatives given the resources they put into the election.

"They threw the kitchen sink, they threw the butler's sink, they threw the crockery, all the silverware, the Aga, the butler, the home help - everything at it," he told the BBC.

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