Conservatives hold South Cambridgeshire seat despite Liberal Democrat win prediction

Anthony Browne is the South Cambridgeshire Conservative Party candidate in the 2019 General Election

Anthony Browne is the South Cambridgeshire Conservative Party candidate in the 2019 General Election. Picture: Stephen Frost - Credit: Archant

The Conservatives have held onto the South Cambridgeshire seat – despite predictions that the Liberal Democrats might win.

General Election 2019: Could Ian Sollom, the Liberal Democrat candidate in South Cambridgeshire, tur

General Election 2019: Could Ian Sollom, the Liberal Democrat candidate in South Cambridgeshire, turn the seat yellow? YouGov think so. Picture: Chris Sidell - Credit: Archant

Conservative Anthony Browne has become MP for South Cambridgeshire, despite strong predictions the seat would go to the Liberal Democrat candidate Ian Sollom.

The parliamentary seat has been blue for decades, and was won again for the Conservatives at the 2017 General Election by the pro-Remain Heidi Allen, before she defected to the Liberal Democrats via a number of independent groups.

South Cambridgeshire was considered a Tory safe seat until the 2016 Brexit referendum split the constituency 60:40 in favour of staying in the EU, and

The last YouGov model before the vote caused a shock when it put the Liberal Democrats slightly ahead, but with the Tories within the margin of error of retaining the seat.

The result came down to the wire at Cambourne Village College where the count was held in the early hours. The result came in at 3.20am this morning, with no party able to claim it with confidence ahead of time.

Anthony Browne won with 31,015 votes - 46.1 per cent, a slight drop from the party's 2017 result of 51.8 per cent.

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Liberal Democrat Ian Sollom received 28,111 votes, 41.8 per cent, which is a huge shift for the party which came in third place with 18.6 per cent in 2017.

Labour's Dan Greef received 7,803, 11.6 per cent, which is a considerable drop for the party which came second with 27.2 per cent in 2017.

The turnout was 77.03 per cent, a slight increase on the 2017 turnout of 76.2 per cent. 67,237 votes were cast in total.

Speaking from the stage after being announced the winner, Mr Browne - who grew up in Fowlmere - said he will "absolutely repay" the trust of the voters.

He dedicated his victory to a Conservative party activist on his campaign committee who he said "died suddenly a few weeks ago", leaving behind young children.

Addressing the hall: "As I speak it seems almost certain there will be quite a significant Conservative government majority. We have now had one referendum, and two general election campaigns where the British public have voted for Brexit.

"It's time we just get it over and done with and that we move on. We need to stop the fighting and just move on as a country - reunite the country - and move on to all the other issues that we need to focus on that affect our day to day lives. Now is the time to bring the country back together, not to divide them.

"This government must be a one nation government that rules in the interests of everyone in Britain from wherever they hail from, whatever their walks of life. It has been a long evening to end a long and often difficult campaign. And it's humbling to represent in parliament my home constituency, where I grew up, where I was educated, to be the representative of the schools I went to, of my family and many life long friends.

"And I make this promise. That I will do what I have been elected to do, and I will fight with every ounce of my energy to represent in Westminster the interests of this constituency and everyone who lives in it."

He said afterwards: "I'm incredibly excited, I'm incredibly humbled".

He said the result was "tight" and said "we had a lot of headwinds against us in this constituency". "It looks like we've got a pretty good working majority," he said, speaking at around 3.30am.

He said "we can then get Brexit done," and he would "fight with every ounce of my breath for the interests of the constituents of South Cambridgeshire".

Runner up, Liberal Democrat Ian Sollom, thanked the Green Party for standing aside and said "we gave it our best shot and we came very close".

He said the Liberal Democrats "should be proud" of the campaign, and said "but now we have a harder fight than ever for the values that underpin that vision, the values of liberal democracy itself, because make no mistake, those values are under threat.

He said he felt "hugely disappointed obviously but also massively proud of my campaign team and all the volunteers that helped in what has been the biggest Liberal Democrat campaign ever in South Cambs" and that he thinks they've "turned the safe Conservative seat into a Tory-Lib Dem marginal".

Labour candidate Dan Greef - who failed to win on his third attempt in South Cambs, he lost his place as runner-up and saw his vote share collapse - said the result was not a "fair reflection" of the efforts of his team.

He said: "We wanted to do better than that because we came in second place last time by a large margin. But clearly we need to listen to the electorate and I honestly think this was a Brexit election in many ways, and you can clearly see that the polls are showing that people are going to one way or the other for Remain or Leave, and maybe they didn't think that we had the answer to that."

Anthony Browne, Conservatives - 31,015

Dan Greef, Labour - 7,803

Ian Sollom, Liberal Democrats - 28,111