Labour hold onto three Hull seats but with massively reduced majorities

Labour's Diana Johnson, who was standing for re-election in Hull North. Picture by Les GibbonHull News & Pictures Ltd
Labour's Diana Johnson, who was standing for re-election in Hull North. Picture by Les GibbonHull News & Pictures Ltd
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On a disastrous night for the party nationally, Hull’s Labour incumbents managed to cling on in the city's three constituencies.

But the problems which saw Labour lose so many heartland strongholds across the country — Brexit and Corbyn — clearly factored here too, with the winners each seeing their majorities slashed considerably.

The first ballot boxes arrive at the Hull Guildhall for the start of the general election count.'Picture by Les GibbonHull News & Pictures Ltd

The first ballot boxes arrive at the Hull Guildhall for the start of the general election count.'Picture by Les GibbonHull News & Pictures Ltd

For seats like these, with a longstanding Labour base but which voted by a significant margin to leave the EU, Labour’s neutral Brexit stance was always going to put to the test the depth of the party’s support.

Read more: Live updates from General Election 2019 in Yorkshire and beyond

Read more: Why Boris Johnson's government must now take decisive action to bridge the North-South divide

Conservative and Brexit Party candidates all stressed the feeling of disillusionment they had picked up on the doors during the campaign, largely from what they described as traditional

Labour voters, fed up with Jeremy Corbyn and Brexit uncertainty.

Speaking before the results were announced, Conservative candidate Hannah Whitbread said she’d been pleased with the reaction she’d had in the city, and predicted a close second-place finish.

Karl Turner, the incumbent for Hull East, arrived at the count looking deflated, moments after the exit poll landed predicting a significantly increased Conservative majority.

A few hours later, despite some seats in Labour’s much-discussed “red wall” having already fallen, Turner was declared the winner in Hull East, narrowly seeing off the Conservative challenger Rachel Storer by just over 1,000 votes.

Mr Turner has seen the biggest reduction in his 2017 majority, down from more than 10,000.

He thanked police and council staff before thanking his opponents in the Brexit and Conservative parties for an honourable campaign. The MP drew his speech to an

emotional end by paying tribute to his late father.

As the night wore on, and the extent of the Conservatives' gains across the country became clearer, some candidates expressed deep frustration.

Mike Lammiman, Green party candidate for Hull West & Hessle, said “I just can’t believe it’s come to this, we’ve got a working class city like Hull practically turning blue… The people voted for [Brexit] and now they’re going to get it, and I believe seriously that it will be the end of this city."

A general friendly atmosphere only soured briefly at one point, when a woman wearing a Brexit Party rosette began to heckle Diana Johnson while she made her victory speech, but was

quickly shushed down.

Mrs Johnson’s Hull North constituency was the safest of the three Hull seats going into this election, and it remains that way after it; though heavily diminished. What was a gap of more than 14,000 votes between Labour and the Conservatives here in 2017, has been reduced to a little over 7,000.

She too thanked the police and staff present, and referenced the difficult night Labour had suffered nationally.

“I will do my very best for the people in this city,” said Johnson “as I have always tried to do.”

While Nigel Farage’s decision to stand down in Tory held seats has clearly helped the Conservatives overall, it seems likely the Tory majority would have been even bigger had BXP

candidates not split the pro-Brexit vote in Labour seats like these.

The combined Conservative and Brexit Party vote would have been comfortably enough to win in two of these three Hull constituencies.

Despite having been tipped throughout the campaign as the battleground seat in Hull, Emma Hardy will return as the MP for Hull West & Hessle, previously Alan Johnson’s seat.

Visibly moved by her victory, Mrs Hardy paid tribute to her opponents for fighting a “respectful and polite” campaign.

She went on to acknowledge that it had been a bad night for Labour nationally, saying “what’s going to happen is going to be tough… Having strong Labour voices standing up for our communities is going to be more needed than ever.”

Given the national picture, it is maybe unsurprising that by the end of the night it’s those who’ve actually won their seats that look most downcast generally, while unsuccessful challengers from the Conservatives and Brexit Party are clearly pleased with the result, both nationally and locally.

Despite the best efforts of the Labour Party, it seems like Boris Johnson got the Brexit election he wanted.

In keeping with the general trend, the Conservatives and Brexit Party have torn chunks out of Labour’s once-assumed-solid base in Hull. But here, at least for now, Labour have clung on to one of their traditional strongholds.