General Election 2019: Labour hold Houghton and Sunderland South with reduced majority
Labour clung on in Houghton and Sunderland South but saw its majority slashed in a tough night for the party nationwide.
Bridget Phillipson held the first of Wearside’s three seats to declare – but with about 8,000 votes less than she managed just two years ago.
The announcement marked the start of what looked set to be a tough night for her party, with exit polls predicting a comfortable Conservative majority in the House of Commons.
“This will be a crushing disappointment for everyone who has campaigned so hard for a Labour government,” Phillipson said following the announcement of the result.
“And it will be a devastating blow for those in our communities who desperately need a Labour government.”
In what may be seen as a swipe at the Labour Party’s leadership she added: “None of us are elected to avoid difficult choices and challenging decisions lie ahead tonight for our country and our party.
“But I can assure everyone I will always seek to do what is right for our community and no matter how you voted I will work tirelessly for you.”
In the 2017 general election Phillipson held the seat with about 60 per cent of the vote, although in local elections earlier this year (2019) Labour polled at just 40 per cent across the constituency’s council wards.
Conservative candidate Christopher Howarth, a former researcher for high-profile Brexiteer Mark Francois, who visited Sunderland to help his former protege campaign, was beaten into second place with 13,095 votes to Phillipson’s 16,210.
Phillipson was joined at one point by ex foreign secretary David Miliband, who praised her and Wearside’s other two MPs for sticking to their principles in their support for a second referendum.
Losing Brexit Party and Liberal Democrat candidates also blamed national issues for Labour’s poor performance, as well as their own struggle to earn votes.
Lib Dem Paul Edgeworth said: “The Labour Party’s vote share and majority is well down and I think that will be repeated elsewhere.
“In this election it’s been about national issues, that’s what people have been concerned about – there’s the council too, but also the MPs reputations and people think Labour don’t put the work in.”