Tory's bitter swipe over drubbing as Ed Davey literally knocks down blue wall


Defeated Tory candidate Peter Fleet delivered a bitter parting shot to his Lib Dem rival after suffering a historic drubbing in last night’s Chesham and Amersham by-election.

Meanwhile, jubilant Lib Dem leader Ed Davey was preparing to celebrate the occasion by knocking down a literal blue wall with an orange hammer.

Speaking after the embarrassing result for Boris Johnson ’s party, where they had a 16,000 majority just two years ago, Mr Fleet said it was “not the result that I was expecting, nor my team.”

Barely concealing his fury at losing one of the country’s “safest” Tory seats, securing only 35% of the vote in a constituency where the Conservatives have never polled lower than 50%, Mr Fleet admitted the result was “disappointing.”

He told reporters: “It’s an absolutely extraordinary result which must take into account the fact that the Liberal Democrat party didn’t just throw the kitchen sink at this constituency, I think it was the microwave, the table, the oven, the dishwasher, the dog, the cat and anything else that was lying around as well.

“And we should consider that when we reflect upon the extraordinary nature of the result.”



Ed Davey knocks down the blue wall
Ed Davey knocks down the blue wall

He added: “It’s clear that that on this occasion the constituents here in Chesham and Amersham have chosen a different candidate to represent them, to serve as their Member of Parliament.

“I look forward to how we can start to rebuild that trust and understanding amongst all those people in Chesham and Amersham and as far as the Conservative Party is concerned that work actually starts in the morning.”

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A few hours later, Mr Davey poured salt into Mr Johnson’s fresh wound, with perhaps the most cringe wall-based stunt since Ed Miliband’s stone tablet.

Hailing the power of his “orange force” against the “blue wall” he demolished a hastily arranged collection of bricks with a small hammer.

Liberal Democrat Sarah Green is the country’s newest MP after winning the Buckinghamshire seat, which had been a Conservative stronghold since its creation in 1974.

The Tories sought to limit the damage, insisting it was difficult for governing parties to win by-elections, but defeated candidate Peter Fleet acknowledged the Conservatives had to rebuild “trust and understanding” with voters.

Policing minister Kit Malthouse branded the defeat “very disappointing” and said that there would have to be a “fairly significant post-match analysis” on what went wrong for the Tories.

The by-election was triggered by the death of former Cabinet minister Dame Cheryl Gillan, who took the seat with a majority of 16,233 in the 2019 general election – some 55% of the vote.



Defeated Tory Peter Fleet
Defeated Tory Peter Fleet

In a stunning result, Ms Green took 56.7% of the vote to secure a majority of 8,028 over the second-placed Tories.

Sir Ed told BBC Breakfast on Friday: “I think this will send a shockwave through British politics.

Liberal Democrats have had good wins in the past but this is our best ever by-election victory and it if was repeated across the South, literally dozens of Conservative seats would fall to the Liberal Democrats.

“People talked about the Red Wall in the North, but forgotten about the Blue Wall in the South, and that’s going to come tumbling down if this result is mimicked across this country.”

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The Green Party came third with 1,480 votes, with Labour trailing in fourth with just 622 votes, losing the party’s deposit in the process.

Polling expert Sir John Curtice told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he made it the “worst Labour performance in any by-election” after it took just 1.6% of the vote.

In her acceptance speech, Ms Green said: “Tonight the voice of Chesham and Amersham is unmistakable. Together we have said: ‘Enough is enough, we will be heard, and this Government will listen.’

“This campaign has shown that no matter where you live, or how supposedly safe a constituency may appear to be, if you want a Liberal Democrat member of Parliament, you can have a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament.”

The scale of the defeat will have alarm bells ringing in Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ), but Mr Malthouse denied that the “Blue Wall” was now at stake.

The Conservative MP told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We believe there is no red and blue, we believe there is one nation, and we’d like to win every seat we possibly can.

“I think the package that the Prime Minister is offering to the country as we come out of the pandemic will be attractive to people in Liverpool and Warrington and Darlington, as well as in Andover in my constituency.”

Major issues in the campaign included the HS2 rail line, which cuts through the constituency, and proposed planning reforms which have sparked fears about building in the countryside around the seat in the Chilterns.

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Mr Fleet said: “Clearly this was a very disappointing result, not the result that I was expecting, nor my team.”

Tory chairwoman Amanda Milling said the “work starts now to show how it’s Conservatives that can deliver on the people’s priorities and regain their support”.

A Conservative source said: “By-elections are always difficult for the governing party, particularly 11 years into government, but there is no getting away from the fact this is a very disappointing result.”

The victory caught bookmakers off guard – the Tories were firm favourites and the Lib Dems closed at 4/1 with Ladbrokes.

“Fair to say this was a night for the punters,” the firm said on Twitter.





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