VICTORIOUS Caroline Dinenage has increased her majority in Gosport for the Conservatives.
Ms Dinenage won with 26,364 of the votes – beating her closest opponent, Ukip’s Chris Wood, who gained 9,266 votes.
Speaking to The News, Ms Dinenage said: ‘I feel very relieved and very happy and really grateful to the residents of Gosport, Lee-on-the-Solent, Hill Head and Stubbington for giving me this fantastic show of confidence.
‘We’ve worked really hard and we’re going to continue to work really hard and I’ll do my best for this area.
‘Every single opponent was always a worry and Chris from Ukip worked so hard and put in such a big effort.
‘Above all, the candidates themselves ran such a professional and good-natured campaign. We didn’t have a bad election in Gosport.’
She added: ‘I’ve got a lot of things I want to do.’
Ms Dinenage’s campaign manager Tony Higham said the Tories were so confident of a win that they spent Thursday phone-banking for candidate Mims Davies in Eastleigh.
Mr Higham said: ‘We’ve been putting a lot of help to Portsmouth South and lately focusing on Eastleigh.
‘Our margin of victory could have been greater but we focused our team elsewhere.
‘We were confident enough to deploy significant resources to Eastleigh.’
Mr Wood gained a significant increase in the vote from his party’s candidate Andrew Rice who won 1,496 in 2010.
Mr Wood said: ‘I’m very pleased indeed to come second.
‘An awful lot of hard work and effort went into getting it.
‘We didn’t have the resources that the opposition did.’
He added: ‘We were out-manned, out-gunned and out-spent by the Conservatives.’
Ms Dinenage was defending the seat she won in 2010, which has been Tory since its creation in 1974.
In 2010, Ms Dinenage faced candidates from nine other parties.
This year she faced five other candidates – Liberal Democrat Rob Hylands, Labour’s Alan Durrant, Green Monica Cassidy, Ukip’s Chris Wood and independent Jeffrey Roberts.
Mr Hylands came second in 2010 after winning 9,887 votes to Ms Dinenage’s 24,300 but polled 3,298 this year – coming fourth.
He said: ‘The Liberal Democrats have been hammered for doing what’s right for the country.
‘We will bounce back. We have done before.’
He added: ‘The core votes came out which is good.
‘Colleagues of mine could now be looking at losing their seats.
‘They’re paying for what we think was doing the right thing.’
Mr Wood, 25, a councillor on Hampshire County Council and Gosport Borough Council, has previously been dubbed the ‘next Nigel Farage’ by a national newspaper.
A former Tory activist, he says Gosport’s former MP Sir Peter Viggers’ duck house expenses claim scandal made him quit the party.
Labour’s Mr Durrant said he was disappointed to poll behind Ukip and it was a nationwide problem for the party.
This year there were 73,268 registered electors in Gosport – marginally higher than the 72,817 in 2010.
Caroline Dinenage (Con), 26,364
Christopher Wood (Ukip), 9,266
Alan Durrant (Lab), 6,926
Robert Hylands (Lib Dem), 3,298
Monica Cassidy (Green), 1,707
Jeffrey Roberts (Ind), 104
MAJORITY - 17,098
TURNOUT - 65.17%
See updates here from our reporters and photographers at all the counts in the Portsmouth area, and a live feed of the headlines as they happen nationwide.