Liberal Democrats increase vote share in Rutland and Melton election

Alicia Kearns makes her maiden speech as Rutland and Melton MP EMN-191213-063843001
Alicia Kearns makes her maiden speech as Rutland and Melton MP EMN-191213-063843001
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As the Conservatives celebrated victory in the Rutland and Melton constituency by a record majority early this morning (Friday) there was plenty to be happy about for the local Liberal Democrats as the dust settled on the General Election vote.

Their candidate, Dr Carol Weaver, increased the party’s vote share in the seat by 5.5 per cent from 2017 as she finished third behind new MP, Alicia Kearns (Conservative) and Labour’s Andy Thomas.

Liberal Democrat candidate Dr Carol Weaver at the hustings event at Melton Baptist Church EMN-190312-102537001

Liberal Democrat candidate Dr Carol Weaver at the hustings event at Melton Baptist Church EMN-190312-102537001

Speaking to the Melton Times shortly before the voting result was announced, Dr Weaver was confident she had done well, commenting: “I think we have improved since 2017 so I am pleased about that.”

She said the Liberal Democrats stood for much more than being the only party campaigning to reverse Brexit and was confident Jo Swinson would remain as leader, although she would soon be seen to lose her seat and resign from the role.

Dr Weaver added: “People have clearly put their trust in Boris Johnson and I only hope they have not signed away their human and democratic rights as a result of it.”

Labour lost 6.3 per cent of their vote share as candidate Mr Thomas finished a distant runner-up to the winning Tory candidate, Mrs Kearns.

As the results sank in from the Exit Poll - revealed at 10pm last night and predicting an overwhelming majority in the House of Commons for Boris Johnson’s Conservatives - Mr Thomas said he stood by the manifesto campaigned on by the leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“I did not vote for Jeremy as leader but I respect him as leader of the party,” he told the Melton Times as the count continued behind him at Melton Sports Village in the early hours of this morning.

“I feel very strongly about the number of people visiting food banks, on the unfairness of Universal Credit and on local issues like bus cuts and I find another way of fighting against them after this election.”

Green Party candidate Alastair McQuillan, who was campaigning in his third election in four years, increased his vote share by nearly two per cent, finishing fourth with 2,875 votes.

But he lost his £500 deposit, along with UKIP’s Marietta King (917 votes), because they failed to secure five per cent of the vote.

The Tories were in buoyant mood at the count from the moment the Exit Poll was made public, indicating a crushing overall win for their party.

Byron Rhodes, chairman of the local Conservative Association expressed surprise at the Poll’s predicted Tory victory of more than 80 seats as he awaited the result in the early hours.

He told the Melton Times: “It is a surprise but very pleasing.

“I was expecting an overall majority of a maximum of 20 seats.

“Brexit is clearly playing a part in this election but there is also a large anti-Jeremy Corbyn factor.”

Word also got round that Melton Borough Council deputy leader, Councillor Leigh Higgins, had won an improbable victory to become MP for Chesterfield, in Derbyshire.

But it was later announced that he had actually lost the seat narrowly to Labour despite increasing the Tory vote share by more than two per cent.

The late Anthony Watchorn poignantly received 458 votes after his name was retained on the ballot papers in accordance with election law.

A funeral service for the Whissendine farmer, who was 69, was held on election day.

New Rutland and Melton MP Alicia Kearns paid tribute to Mr Watchorn during her victory speech, in which she said he had ‘tragically’ been denied his chance to stand in the election.

There were 82,711 registers voters for the seat this time and a turnout of 70.5 per cent was recorded, slightly down on 2017.