Amber Rudd election result: Home Secretary holds onto Hastings and Rye after recount with significantly reduced majority of 346

Home Secretary emerges victorious but with greatly reduced majority

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Indy Politics

Amber Rudd clung onto her seat by the narrowest of margins following a knife-edge full recount in Hastings and Rye.

The Home Secretary did not speak to the media and was spirited away into the early dawn by her aides after she emerged victorious with a greatly reduced majority of just 346, defeating her Labour rival. by 25,668 to 25,322.

After the recount was announced, Ms Rudd relaxed visibly having spent most of the evening looking tense.

Increased voter turnout sees big boost for Labour

On a better than expected night for Labour, its candidate Peter Chowney, leader of Hastings borough council, could not overturn the Conservative majority of 4,796 in the Brexit-leaning constituency despite his popularity locally and a well-organised campaign.

Some had anticipated Hastings and Rue could deliver  the “Michael Portillo” moment of the campaign but the result when it came through at around 4.45am meant the Conservatives avoided an embarrassing defeat on a disastrous night for the Government.

Ms Rudd delivered only a brief speech, in which she paid tribute to Mr Chowney for having run a “good campaign” and thanked her own team and made no mention of Prime Minister Theresa May.

“I'm deeply honoured to have been re-elected for the third time by the residents of Hastings and Rye.

“This is a fantastic place to live and work and I'm going to continue my hope to build on the opportunities and great regeneration that has been taking place in this area.

“Improving our schools, improving our NHS and getting the infrastructure investment that we need.

“This is what really matters to me and this is what I hope to continue to deliver for the fantastic constituency of Hastings and Rye.”

The Home Secretary played a high-profile role in the Conservative campaign, standing in for Ms May in the seven-way television debate of party leaders after she declined to appear. She was praised by some for her performance and has been tipped as a possible Chancellor, with Philip Hammond rumoured to be at risk of losing the job in an anticipated reshuffle.

But Ms Rudd has faced difficult questions over security and policing following the recent terrorist attacks in Manchester and London after it emerged two of those responsible had been on the radar of the security forces, of which she has overall charge.

The Home Secretary has enjoyed a rapid ascent since entering politics in 2010, when she won the East Sussex seat of Hastings and Rue from Labour. The constituency was held by Labour during the Blair years and is considered a Labour-Tory swing.

It was believed Ms Rudd might have alienated Leave voters in the relatively deprived constituency where 55 per cent of voters opted to leave after playing a key role in the cross-party campaign to remain in the EU, although Mr Chowney is also a pro-Remain politician.

The Labour candidate was given a boost when the Green Party decided not to field a candidate in order to give Mr Chowney a better chance as part of their bid to form a “progressive alliance” – but in the end this was not to be.