Barnsley’s two Labour MPs held onto their seats in the General Election which spelled disaster for their party nationally in the face of stiff opposition from Brexit Party candidates.
But both Barnsley Central’s Dan Jarvis and Barnsley East’s Stephanie Peacock saw the majorities the commanded just two years ago slashed by around three quarters.
In each case the Brexit Party’s candidates were the ones to pose the biggest threat, with Victoria Felton winning 11,233 votes to the 14,804 cast for Dan Jarvis and Jim Ferguson taking 11,112 against Stephanie Peacock’s 14,329.
The Conservatives also performed strongly in each constituency – in Barnsley East the candidate was only hundreds of votes behind their Brexit opponent, a situation which would have been unthinkable in a Labour stronghold before the 2016 referendum on the EU.
Mr Jarvis said: “This is an election the likes of which we have never seen before. It is no surprise to anyone that our majorities are significantly reduced, it has happened right around the country.”
Speaking after the result was announced, he said: “Too many people expressed anger at a Labour Party which doesn’t speak for them.
“We have to listen to those concerns and work to regain the trust where it has been lost."
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There was also a need for more investment in towns like Barnsley from central government, he said, adding: “The views of communities like ours have been openly villified.”
Working to tackle the neglect of the north will be his “number one priority” when Parliament resumes, he said.
“There is undoubtedly much work to be done. The massive potential of Barnsley and Yorkshire should be shouted from the rooftops.”
However there was a “desperate need for investment if that potential is to be unlocked,” he said.
“The UK is too unequal and too centralised. I will fight for our town, our region, our country,” he said.
Mr Jarvis also spoke of the need to address the “dark stain of division” which had emerged in modern politics and which needed to be addressed.
His colleague Stephanie Peacock said after her victory: “Too many people have told me they feel ignored, forgotten and abandoned. Rest assured, I have heard you all.”
She also pledged to fight for the welfare of constituents in Westminster.