Labour have gained Kensington from the Conservatives in a final blow to Theresa May almost 24 hours after polls closed for 2017 General Election. Voting at the traditionally true blue seat was so close that three recounts took place, the last of which found Labour’s Emma Dent Coad had won by just 20 votes. The declaration, the last of general election, gives the Conservatives 318 seats to Labour’s 262, leaving Mrs May without a majority in the House of Commons.
Mrs Dent Coad saw off Tory incumbent Victoria Borwick, overturning the former city deputy mayor’s 7,000 majority from 2015. The west London seat, one of the wealthiest in London, has been in the hands of the Conservatives since its establishment in 74′. Kensington and Chelsea, the predecessor seat prior to a recent boundary change, was was held by junior Tory minister and diarist Alan Clark from 97′ to 99′. Former Cabinet Minister Michael Portillo held it from 99′ to 2005 and ex-foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind was the most recent Tory incumbent. After declaration the Labour and Tory candidates hugged each other while Labour supporters cheered and applauded their new MP. Ms Dent Coad, a former local councillor, thanked the Lib Dem candidate Annabel Mullin for ‘stealing some Tory votes and letting me through’. The Labour MP told she would focus on the area’s problems, including air pollution and housing to overcome ‘unforgivable inequalities’. She told’This constituency is a microcosm of everything that is wrong in this country after seven years of incompetent and uncaring coalition and Tory Government. I will do everything in my power in the next five years to make “One Kensington” an example of the finest qualities of common humanity, mutual respect for all our communities and social justice to create a thoughtful, kind, co-operative and tolerant society where we can all prosper and thrive.’ In her speech after result, Lady Borwick, told ‘I wish Emma every success, but please be assured, as far as I am concerned, tomorrow I start the fight back for Kensington and the Conservatives.’ Leading Labour figures congratulated Mrs Dent Coad on the surprise result, with London major Sadiq Khan tweeted ‘Fantastic news in Kensington. Congratulations to new Member of Parliament @emmadentcoat.’
Explaining his decision to hold a third recount, returning officer Tony Redpath told on Friday morning ‘The provisional result of the election was known at approximately 2 Am. That result was very close and a recount was therefore requested. The result on that recount also remained very close. A request for a third count was therefore made. At this stage staff had been up all night and were becoming visibly tired. In order to have confidence in its accuracy, the recount has been suspended to allow staff to rest and recuperate. The count will recommence as soon as possible and details will be posted on our website and on social media.’ The outcome in Kensington capped off a disastrous election for Mrs May that has left her political career hanging by a thread.
She will now rely on the support of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland to prop her up when she had hoped for a landslide victory. Mrs May has told Chancellor Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Brexit Secretary David Davis and Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, 5 favourites to replace her as leader, will keep their jobs. The Chancellor and Foreign Minister could have been ‘goners’ but she is now ‘too weak to sack them’ while another expert suggested she has has been ‘taken prisoner’ by her Cabinet colleagues. Earlier Mrs May stood in Downing Street and declared her determination to carry on for a full 5 year term after getting permission from the Queen to form a government.