It’s been a remarkable election night. The Tories have won a big majority in the House of Commons and stormed the so-called ‘Red Wall’ of Labour seats in the North and Midlands, which have voted red for decades. As expected after such a tumultuous election, there have been some high-profile casualties along the way.
Here are the seven biggest names to lose their seats:
Jo Swinson’s loss of her East Dunbartonshire seat will be viewed as the ultimate ‘Portillo moment’ of the 2019 election campaign, made all the more noteworthy because of Swinson’s own grand rhetoric when the election was called. Swinson started the campaign in November saying she would be the next PM. She ended it not even being able to say she was an MP. The Lib Dems underperformed this election, but in the end suffered the ultimate humiliation of losing their leader too.
Ahead of tonight’s election result, Labour activists were said to be worried that Laura Pidcock, the Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights could lose in the Labour heartland of North West Durham. The election results this morning showed they were right to be worried. In a devastating blow to the Labour leadership, not only did the party lose a key Corbynite stalwart, they also broke their historic connection with their traditional supporters in the former mining communities of the North East. Since its creation in 1950, the North West Durham constituency has never backed a non-Labour candidate. Laura Pidcock becomes the first Labour MP to lose in the area, a remarkable fall from grace after being tipped to be the next Labour leader.
Chuka Umunna’s rollercoaster career – which saw him resign from the Labour shadow cabinet, leave the party to join the ‘Independent Group’, form the new party Change UK, leave the party to become an independent, and then join the Lib Dems – has come to an abrupt end. Umunna came second in Cities of London & Westminster tonight as the Lib Dem candidate, behind the Conservatives’ Nickie Aiken. The former MP had hoped to unite the Remain vote in the constituency, but in the end not enough Labour voters were willing to abandon their party to support Umunna’s campaign.
Former London mayoral candidate and Environment minister Zac Goldsmith was one of the few Tory casualties of election night, losing his seat of Richmond Park to the Lib Dems. It’s not a massive surprise that the local face of the ‘Get Brexit Done’ party suffered in a seat which voted 71 per cent Remain – but the government minister, who attempted to run on a pro-environment campaign, will still be smarting this morning.
At long last, the Tories have slayed the ‘Beast of Bolsover’ Dennis Skinner. Skinner had held on seat in Derbyshire since 1970, but his constituency had backed Leave by 70 per cent in 2016, and was particular vulnerable to the Tories’ onslaught on the so-called ‘Red Wall’. Even so, it was quite remarkable to see Skinner lose his seat after so many years in the House of Commons.
Arch-Remainer Dominic Grieve, who was the Tory MP for Beaconsfield for 22 years before Boris Johnson removed the whip from him, lost his seat in the early hours of Friday morning. The former Attorney General, who stood as an independent, managed to rally 16,765 votes in Beaconsfield, while the Conservative candidate received 32,477.
Chris Williamson’s career has finally come to a juddering halt. The former Labour MP and close ally of Jeremy Corbyn parted ways with the Labour party in November after he was suspended for playing down the party’s anti-Semitism problem, which he said Labour had been ‘too apologetic’ about. In a letter announcing his intention to stand as an independent in Derby North, Williamson blamed his party for instigating a ‘witch hunt’ against socialists, capitulating to the ‘Jewish Labour movement’, and promised to build a ‘genuinely socialist and anti-imperialist’ movement. That movement has thankfully come to an end before it even started.