General Election 2019: Elation in Fenland for Conservatives as Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay wins for a fourth time
It was a night of jubilation for Fenland Conservatives as they first watched their party slowly garner a major majority across the nation and then saw their candidate for North East Cambridgeshire win for a fourth time.
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay could not hide his delight as he saw his majority in our constituency increase by 4,083 on his result in 2017. In fact he now has a majority of just under 30,000 - 29,993 to be precise having polled 38,423 votes - one of the largest in the country.
That's more than two-and-a-half times the total of the other three candidates put together.
Labour's Diane Boyd took second place with 8,430 over 4,500 less than her predecessor Ken Rustidge in 2017 and that despite some hard campaigning from the Barrister.
It appears all three parties gained at Labour's expense. The Liberal Democrats' Rupert Moss-Eccardt polled just under 2,000 more than his predecessor with 4,298 , while the Green Party's Ruth Johnson was delighted to see her share of the vote increase by nearly 800, with a total for her of 1,813.
All four candidates agreed on one thing, the election was all about Brexit, particularly here in North Cambridgeshire where the vast majority - 73.3 per cent voted to leave the EU in 2015.
And after winning Mr Barclay said he was keen to now get on and get the job done. He said the deal is ready to go and the first step will be to get it ratified by parliament. He refused to be drawn on speculation by his supporters at the Hudson that he was destined for greater things within Boris Johnson's new government.
He said: "I have a pretty full-on job already, and I'm keen to get on and do it and deliver on the referendum."
But Mrs Boyd also believed the ruthless campaign against her leader Jeremy Corbyn waged by the national press also influenced not only the local vote but also nationally.
She said: "People say we have got the best free press, but we don't. It is not just what they print but the slant they put on it.
"Take for instance the story of the boy lying on the hospital floor in Leeds and on the same day claims by Matt Hancock of an assault by a Labour activist.
"It was fairly quickly found that the story of the boy was true, and that the assault was false. And there was a retraction, but the negative news had already been spread and retweeted and the retraction was not covered in any where near the same way."
Ms Johnson hopes this election and the positive outcome for her party will be a stepping stone to the future of the Greens.
She said: "The message I have had on the street is that it is all about Brexit, but people are also concerned about the climate emergency too.
"What we need to do is concentrate on attracting the young vote, as they care more about the climate, and we perhaps need to approach Labour again about working towards getting proportional representation.
"The current system favours the Conservatives, so why would they want to change it, but it does not represent the people of the country. If we can persuade Labour to join with us and the Liberal Democrats then we might stand a chance to change the voting system.
"In the meantime the message I am getting from the Green Party headquarters is that we are doing well and will keep more of our deposits this time, which is positive. We are still a relatively young party, so perhaps in 10 or 15 years time, we will be more of force."
Liberal Democrat Rupert Moss-Eccardt was unhappy with some of the shenanigans that has over-shadowed this election and blamed Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage and their "toxic" rhetoric for the need to have safety advice from police while out campaigning.
Mr Moss-Eccardt said: "This is the first time I have had to have personal safety advice and an emergency number in case of danger and that should not happen."
Adding that while Brexit had been a issue when he was out and about canvassing, it was more often raised as a casual topic of discussion rather than on people's doorsteps.
It took an army of counters from when the boxes arrived at the Hudson shortly after 10pm until around 4am to verify and count the 53,205 votes cast, with a turn-out of 63.6 per cent - which was just a fraction up on the 2017 election.
Announcing the result Paul Medd, Fenland Council's chief executive and the returning officer, said there were 239 rejected ballot papers - many of those saw voters write Brexit Party with a X by the side.
Stepping up to rapturous applause from his supporters Mr Barclay gave a brief speech thanking those who had supported him through the campaign as well as those involved in the night's count.
He then went on to say he hoped that once Brexit is finally dealt with the country will be able to heal and the "fractious time" that has dominated politics in recent times will be at an end and that the country will be able to move forward together.
Mr Barclay also paid tribute to his opponents for the way they ran their campaigns.
Each of the candidates also made short speeches with both Ms Boyd and Ms Johnson congratulating Mr Barclay on his win, while Mr Moss-Eccardt once again highlighted the need for heightened security, pointing out that police officers were on duty at the Hudson throughout the night.
Read what Labour's Diane Boyd had to say here.
Ruth Johnson for the Green Party hopes they will build on this result.
Rupert Moss-Eccardt talked about personal safety when out canvassing.
Steve Barclay wants to get on with the job now.