By Harry Thompson and Caitlin Griffith Otway
In a night that felt like it was over before it began, following a shock exit poll that proved to be overwhelmingly accurate, the Conservative party has gained their largest majority since Margaret Thatcher’s in 1987, although Labour retained its strong presence in south and east London.
Despite widespread losses for Jeremy Corbyn’s party around the country, the Eastlondonlines boroughs of Lewisham, Hackney and Tower Hamlets all maintained their reputation as safe Labour seats, albeit with damage to their majorities in all but Bethnal Green and Bow.
In Lewisham, where Vicky Foxcroft, Ellie Reeves – who gave her acceptance speech by video link because of baby nursing duties – and Janet Daby were all re-elected, small Labour losses were offset by similarly sized Lib Dem gains. a pattern also seen in Hackney, where Labour front bencher Diane Abbott and Meg Hillier were also re-elected.
In Tower Hamlets, however, Rushanara Ali increased her majority in Bethnal Green and Bow with a swing of 0.9 per cent. Tweeting this morning she said: “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for re-electing me as the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow. I am devastated for my Labour colleagues and friends elsewhere.”
The most surprising ELL result came from marginal Croydon Central, which saw Labour’s Sarah Jones hold on to the seat. She said on Twitter: “We must, and will, rebuild, for the people who need it most. That starts with humility about why we failed to win.”
In Croydon South, incumbent Conservative Chris Philp comfortably maintained his lead, despite suffering a 2.2 per cent loss to his majority at the hands of the Greens and Lib Dems.
Speaking to Eastlondonlines, Labour candidate for Croydon South Olga FitzRoy said: “I’m devastated. We need a serious rethink of our position.”
London’s wider picture
Only four seats changed hands in London, but three results were particularly significant. In Putney, Labour’s pro-EU Fleur Anderson snatched the seat from the Tories, while in pro-remain Richmond Park, Tory Zac Goldsmith was defeated by Lib Dem Sarah Olney.
Lib Dem candidate, Sam Gyimah, a former Tory minister, appears to have split the remain vote in Kensington, leading to the defeat of Labour’s Emma Dent Coad by leave-supporting Conservative candidate, Felicity Buchan.
Labour Party members were quick to critise Gymiah, with Hackney’s Diane Abbott posting on Twitter that Kensington had lost “a wonderful MP… because of the intervention of carpetbagger Sam Gyimah.”
A devastating picture has emerged for the Labour Party on its worst election night since 1935, with the Conservatives making significant gains in Labour’s ‘red-wall’ heartlands, and doing best in leave voting areas.
Some seats have not elected a Tory MP in decades, while Labour’s Anna Turley was defeated in Redcar, a seat which has never once returned a Tory candidate.
The SNP has made huge gains across Scotland, winning 47 out of 59 seats. This included the shock defeat of Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson, who just last week claimed she could realistically be elected Prime Minister, and has now resigned as party leader.
In Wales, the Tories snatched seven key seats from Labour, while the DUP suffered big losses in Northern Ireland, including the party’s Westminster leader, Nigel Dodds, who was defeated by Sinn Féin’s John Finucane.
Labour’s failure has been blamed on a rejection of leader Jeremy Corbyn who announced he wouldn’t lead the party into another election. While Brexit has clearly played a critical role in the dramatic swing to the right in Northern leave communities. But the picture is more complex still.
The result was a crushing blow for the Labour Party, but the months ahead will prove yet more challenging for the party as Boris Johnson reembarks on his mission to lead the UK out of the EU.