General Election 2019: Labour's Stephen Morgan holds Portsmouth South

ONE of the most closely-fought constituencies in Hampshire has returned a Labour MP.

Thursday, 12th December 2019, 11:10 pm
Updated Friday, 13th December 2019, 4:02 am

Stephen Morgan won Portsmouth South tonight with 23,068 votes.

He said: ‘The electorate of Portsmouth South have reaffirmed their faith in my record of delivery and a promise of so much more.

‘Always fighting our city's corner, always putting Portsmouth first.’

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Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan having been returned in the general election. Pictured at the count in Portsmouth Guildhall. Picture: Habibur Rahman

He added: ‘We find ourselves in the midst of unprecedented division and uncertainty in our nation.

'I stand here today re-elected as your MP on a promise to continue to change politics and the communities in our city for the better.

‘As the people of Portsmouth there is more that unites us than divides us.

‘We must work together to drum out personality politics.’

Donna Jones at Portsmouth Guildhall for the general election count. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Contender Donna Jones, candidate for the Tories and a city councillor, was knocked into second place with 17,705 votes.

Lib Dem Gerald Vernon-Jackson won 5,418 votes.

It comes after she warned that a vote for the Brexit Party’s John Kennedy (994 votes) in the seat would split the vote and damage the possibility of Brexit.

Portsmouth North turnout is 64.6 per cent with 46,055 votes cast. That is a decrease from 2017’s election, which saw a turnout of 66.1 per cent with 47,210 ballots cast.

Vote counters at Portsmouth Guildhall for the general election held on December 12 in 2019. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Portsmouth South turnout is 64 per cent, with 47,588 – last election saw a 63.9 per cent turnout with 44,566 votes.

But veteran politician, Lib Dem candidate Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said he does not think there will be any change in either seat.

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He is challenging Labour’s Stephen Morgan who won in 2017. Councillor Vernon-Jackson said: ‘I think we know it will stay the same.

General Election Portsmouth. Election count at Portsmouth Guildhall. Pictured: George Madgwick. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘And it looks like in Hampshire it will stay the same. So there might be election drama around the country but not in Hampshire.’

But elsewhere, Labour is taking blow after blow.

Labour councillor George Fielding is at the count in Portsmouth. He was disappointed at the news Labour lost to the Tories in Workington, seen as the bellwether seat for this election.

Cllr Fielding said: ‘It is disappointing. I think that Brexit has played a part here. It’s a sad show of what’s happening to the country overall.’

Cllr Judith Smyth agreed. She said; ‘I am devastated and shocked. It’s sad to lose Workingham as well as Blyth Valley.’

On a dank and dismal winter evening, the result of the ‘most important election in a generation’ is set to play out.

It’s been 96 years since the last December election and two years since the 2017 poll, which left parliament paralysed in Brexit limbo.

And as the rain pours in Portsmouth’s Guildhall Square, an army of volunteers are furiously sifting through today’s results from the polls.

Carried inside large, black containers with ‘ballot boxes’ splashed across them in bold white letters, the volunteers will be tallying up the results throughout the night and into the early hours of the morning.

And if the exit poll is anything to go on, it looks like a Conservative victory is on the cards, with the Tories predicted to secure a majority in the Commons.

But in Portsmouth, the battleground is less clear. The marginal seat of Portsmouth South will be the most interesting contest of the night.

It’s previously been held by all three of the main parties - Labour last, Tories before that and Liberal Democrats in the years before.

However, the contest could be anyone’s to win - or lose. Various polls and predictions have tipped all three parties as winners at points during the campaign.

It's a result that eager journalists from news organisations across the UK will be keeping a close eye on.

An assortment of television cameras are already lined up to capture the moment, with reporters tapping away on laptops.

Meanwhile, councillors from various political parties are beginning to gather, some anxiously watching from the stands, while others, hoping to get an early indication on how things are going, have ventured past red rope separating the press from the count volunteers.

Outside Guildhall, the last few Christmas shoppers and winter revellers from the city’s ice rink are beginning to make their way home.

By the time the sun comes up and the city centre begins to fill, the landscape of British politics could be a very different place.

Candidates have not given up hope in spite of exit poll

Labour’s Amanda Martin was hopeful about her party’s chance in Portsmouth North - a constituency that was red before the reign of Tory heavyweight Penny Mordaunt.

Ms Martin said: ‘I am hopeful.

‘I went to every single polling station today and the reaction I had was positive and lots of people were saying well done and thanks for running.

‘This constituency was Labour nine years ago. It might not happen tonight, sometimes it takes more than one attempt to win a seat.

‘But I think we’ve run a really positive campaign and we want to make this more about the state of the country - the NHS, education, social care and the Waspi women than anything else.’

But Cllr Vernon-Jackson was less happy. After seeing the exit poll he said: ‘Nationally it went very, very badly unfortunately and we lost half of our support over the period of the election.’