POLITICAL commentators have called the 2017 General Election the most extraordinary in British history – and the Warwick & Leamington constituency provided one of the great upsets.
Matt Western took the seat for Labour overturning former Conservative MP Chris White’s 6,000 majority on a night of unpredictability, drama and emotion.
While neighbouring constituences – Kenilworth and Southam, Rugby and Stratford – all saw the respective Tory MPs comfortably hold their seats, it was quite a different story in Warwick and Leamington, where Mr Western secured a 1,200 majority.
Mr Western and his team campaigned tirelessly from the moment Prime Minister Teresa May called the snap election – in the hope of increasing the Tory majority and strengthening her hand ahead of the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.
Mr Western, who just five weeks earlier had retained his Warwickshire County Council seat, revealed he thought he may be in with a chance of winning but admitted he only dared think it a reality when the Exit poll on election night predicted Labour would regain the Warwick and Leamington seat seven years after Mr White took it from James Plaskitt.
He told the Observer: “I was very optimistic, It was all going very well and there was a significant swing to the Labour Party.
“A lot of first time voters chose to come out and vote for me. I think they were energised by the campaign. Some of these first time voters were around 70 years-old. It was wonderful and so special they felt compelled to have their say and felt it was time for their voices to be heard.”
But it has not been all plain sailing since he got into Parliament. The new MP is currently without an office and working from a cafe in the House of Commons.
Mr Western arrives in Westminster at a momentous time in British politics.
He said: “I was in a corridor on Monday afternoon when the Conservative party had a meeting. Theresa May walked past and there was a real atmosphere.
“Jeremy Corbyn got a standing ovation and by contrast the reaction to Theresa May was much more muted.
“I sense there is something going on. There are divisions in the party and many are despondent with the way the campaign was run. I do not think there is currently any conviction for Theresa May and feel people are manoeuvering behind the scenes.
“People are tired of elections after Brexit and now the General Election. Between the two it has cost £250million which I find staggering and also that the Conservatives felt they could do this.
“We are left in a very chaotic position but if there is another election I am confident in the Labour party.”
Immediately after the election Theresa May apologised to those who had lost their seats, but Mr White was magnanimous in defeat.
He said: “It has been extraordinary end to a phenomenal seven years representing the best constituency in the county.
“I would like to to congratulate Matt and wish him all the best in this most incredible job.”
Visit www.leamingtonobserver.co.uk for more election reaction.