GENERAL ELECTION: Tories scrape through at Basildon & Billericay by just 20 votes

The Tories scraped through to hold Basildon and Billericay by just 20 votes following a dramatic evening at the count including two recounts.

Richard Holden only just secured the seat, once considered safe Tory territory, with 21,905 votes. The seat now has a new MP since former MP for the area John Baron stood down after 23 years as an MP.

Mr Baron served as the MP for Billericay and district from 2001 and then Basildon and Billericay from 2010. One of the biggest issues in the election campaign in the area was the controversy over Richard Holden being selected by the national Tory party as candidate for the seat.

Mr Holden being selected at the last minute sparked anger from the local Tory party. Last month, speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Andrew Baggott, leader of the Basildon Conservatives, described the decision to make Mr Holden the only option in the Tory candidate poll for the seat as a “kick in the teeth” for local party campaigners.

The Basildon and Billericay seat was announced at a count at the Basildon Sporting Village, off Cranes Farm Road, Basildon in the early hours of Friday morning. The result in Basildon was a hold for the Tories.

Speaking during the announcement on the stage Mr Holden said: “Of course, my utmost thanks goes to the people of Basildon and Billericay whether you voted for me or not in this campaign I will fight your corner. I am deeply honoured that you have put your trust in me as your new local MP and my promise to each and every one of you is that I will fight day and night to make your voice heard. Tonight has obviously been a very difficult night for the Conservative Party and many of my colleagues, friends, colleagues and campaigners up and down the country. The work starts again now to regain the trust of the country.”

Speaking after the announcement, Cllr Baggott told the Local democracy service: “I wouldn’t say it’s a victory, yes we returned an MP which is absolutely fantastic but the key thing is that the Government or rather the ex-government need to take stock, need to listen to what the people are saying to them. The fact that in Billericay we went from a 20,000 majority to scraping through by 20 or so votes is a testament to the strength of feeling that people have about where the Conservatives have gone lost their way. A lot of it is that they still see the Conservatives as being weak on immigration, they have lost a bit of faith, the real reason is there’s been a disconnect between the party in Westminster and the public.”

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Matthew Critchell

Local Democracy Reporter