Sally-Ann Hart has been elected the new MP for Hastings and Rye.
She won the December 12 vote by a majority of 4,043 from Labour’s Peter Chowney as she secured 26,896 votes, increasing Amber Rudd’s 2017 majority by 3,697 votes.
Mr Chowney came second with 22,853 votes. Liberal Democrat Nick Perry secured 3,960 votes and 565 votes went to Independent candidate Paul Crosland.
After her victory, Mrs Hart said: “I think we’ll get on with delivering Brexit and then we can move on and focus on the other issues that are equally as important to people in Hastings and Rye - transport infrastructure, education, healthcare, communities, crime, the police, focussing on children, young people and families.
“I will be looking at how we can improve the education and the breadth of education. I want to get my sleeves rolled up, get stuck in, find out much more about the issues that really affect people and be very hands on and work with local communities to look at how we can achieve things together, working together as a partnership.
“To the people who voted for me, thank you very, very much and for those who didn’t vote for me, I will be representing all of you regardless of how you voted.”
Mrs Hart’s victory comes at the end of a week she herself described as ‘pretty grim’.
Last Thursday she was booed at a hustings event as she defended herself for sharing an article which argued for paying some with learning difficulties less because they ‘don’t understand money’. On Tuesday, the Conservative party confirmed it was investigating Mrs Hart over allegations of Islamophobia after she shared an article entitled ‘Womens March Towards Islam’, written by an activist who claims to write about Islamic propaganda.
Mrs Hart said she could not answer questions surrounding the investigation as she was ‘not aware of the procedure’.
She said she had not thought about how much her majority might be but said she got a ‘positive feeling from the doorsteps’ and felt she and her team engaged well with voters.
Speaking earlier, Labour’s Peter Chowney said he expected the result to be close.
He said: “The national picture affects people everywhere. People don’t really take notice too much of what’s going on locally. They’re going to vote as they see the national picture.
“I do feel confident. It was so positive today. We are building on two years ago. We just had so many people helping.
“I don’t know how it will go here but it will be close.”
Labour and the Conservatives offered differing opinions on what they felt were the biggest issues facing voters in Hastings and Rye at this election.
Labour said Brexit was not the biggest issue and felt housing, healthcare and education were the topics most concerning voters.
The Conservatives felt Brexit was the biggest issue and Mrs Hart said it was ‘important’ politicians respected the 2016 vote and delivered Brexit.
Liberal Democrat Nick Perry said he was proud of the campaign his team ran in Hastings and Rye, and said he would be happy to retain his deposit by securing at least five per cent of the vote. Mr Perry secured 7.3 per cent of the 54,274 votes cast.
Independent Paul Crosland said he would have been delighted to achieve his target of 365 votes - something he achieved with 200 votes to spare.
Before the results were announced, he said: “I’ll be continuing to encourage people to find ways to care and share within their communities, take on the challenge of the ClimateCrisis with grassroots environmentalism and have dialogues across traditional political divides in order to find common ground for action.”
The turnout for the election was 68 per cent, down on 2017’s 71.6 per cent.