Labour hold onto North East seats in Parliament - but combined Conservative and Brexit Party vote could have transformed political landscape
Some of Labour’s North East MPs will return to Parliament as it resumes next week.
After a terrible election for Labour, seven of the region’s former Labour heartland seats fell to the Tories, but looking at the results it could have been much worse for the party if the Brexit vote had been unified under one party.
If the votes for both the Conservatives and the Brexit Party had gone to one party there would have been a different outcome for Sunderland Central, Houghton and Sunderland South and Washington and Sunderland West.
Had those who backed the Brexit Party pledged their support to the Conservatives – or vice versa – it would have also impacted on Easington and Hartlepool’s outcomes.
Voters in all five constituencies voted to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum.
The Conservative’s led a Brexit-focused election campaign with Prime Minister Boris Johnson telling voters that a vote for the Tories was a vote to ‘get Brexit done’. The party now has a majority of 78 seats in Parliament.
The Sunderland Central seat was retained by Julie Elliott, who was first elected to the post in 2010, with 18,336 votes pledged to the former GMB regional organiser, a -13.4% share of the vote.
Conservative Tom D’Silva lodged 15,372 vote, a 2% gain, and the Brexit Party’s Viral Parikh got 5,047 votes to his name, with their combined vote amounting to 20,419.
Bridget Phillipson, the Houghton and Sunderland South MP also first elected in 2010, won 16,210 votes, a -18.7% share of those ballots posted.
In that constituency, Conservative Christopher Howarth polled 13,095 votes, an increase of 3.2%, and Brexit Party candidate Kevin Yuill gained 6,165 votes – an combined total of 19,260 votes.
The electorate in Washington and Sunderland West pledged their support for Sharon Hodgson to return to the role, with 15,941 votes, a -18.2% share.
Valarie Allen, who stood for the Conservative Party, got 12,218 of the vote, a 3.7% increase, while the Brexit Party’s Howard Brown was given the backing of 5,429, a combined vote of 17,647.
In the aftermath of the count, held at Silksworth Sports Complex, Ms Elliott said her party’s leadership “led us to the worst result in my life-time” and called for the transformation of its leadership.
Ms Phillipson tweeted after the count: “It is a privilege to be re-elected to serve my community in Parliament on what looks to be a truly terrible night for Labour.
“Devastated by the impact this will have on working people right across our country.
“A long and difficult road ahead.”
Mrs Hodgson also said Brexit and leader Jeremy Corbyn were among the issues raised as concerns on the doorstep in the lead up to election day.
Sunderland Central Brexit Party candidate, Mr Parikh said the way votes were cast in the city underlines its backing for Brexit, but that it could have been a different outcome had the votes not been split between his group and the Tories.
In 2017, Ms Elliott got 25,056 votes, yesterday that had fallen to 18,336 votes.
The former University of Sunderland student said: “In the last election, the Conservatives got 15,000 and they still got that this time, so there has been a change at all in the vote, and Labour were 13% down and we gained 12%, so we have taken every Labour vote,” he said.
“I know people will say we only took 5,000 votes, but if you look at the Tory vote, that would have taken us over, but I know because of the history of Sunderland, some people say they will not vote Conservative.
“I think people were absolutely upset at Labour and we can see that in the election result.
“I don’t think we’ll see another election for five years now, Boris Johnson has got a massive majority now.”
Labour's Grahame Morris also kept hold of his seat in Easington, with 15,723 votes, a -18.2% share
His Conservative rival Clare Ambrosino gained 9,142 votes, a 3.7% gain, while Julie Maughan of the Brexit Party got 6,744, which adds up to 15,886, 163 more than Labour’s total.
Stefan Houghton, Conservative, got 11,869 votes, a -5.3% share, and Richard Tice, chairman of the Brexit Party, got 10,603 votes, a combined total of 22,472.