'Elated' Conservative Andrew Stephenson secures record vote share as he wins Pendle for fourth election running
"Elated" Conservative Andrew Stephenson held onto his seat in spectacular fashion for the fourth general election running, this time with an increased majority.
Mr Stephenson, who was first elected to Pendle in 2010 when he defeated Labour stalwart Gordon Prentice, commanded 54.2% of the vote, the largest vote share since Pendle became a constituency in 1983.
The key ally of Prime Minister Boris Johnson swept to his comfortable win in line with many parts of the country as Brexit dominated the agenda.
Speaking to Leader Times after the count, Mr Stephenson said: "I'm elated. It's been an unbelievable night for the Conservative Party. I'm delighted to be joined locally by new MPs in a whole raft of Lancashire seats.
"Brexit has been the big issue in this election. On the doorstep in the last few weeks people have been telling me they are sick of the dither and delay. We've got to get it (Brexit) done. It won't be done overnight, but we have to make a start.
In his official acceptance speech at Colne Leisure Centre, where the count had taken place, Mr Stephenson thanked his staff, friends and family for all their hard work in helping him gain a record 24,076 votes.
He said: "I am delighted to have been re-elected for the fourth time to serve the people of Pendle. Having first been elected with under 40% of the vote, I am pleased to have seen that margin increase at every election. Evidence of the growing confidence that the people of our area have shown in the Conservative Party.
"As I have said before, and will say again now, I intend to repay that confidence by serving the people of Pendle whether they voted for me or not to the best of my abilities.
"Since 2010, working together we have secured over £60m. investment into Burnley General Hospital, doubled the number of local children attending good or outstanding schools, significantly reduced unemployment, made huge progress in the £32m. transformation of Brierfield Mills and secured millions more in investment.
"However, clearly one of the biggest factors in this election was Brexit. In 2016 Pendle voted by 63% to leave the EU and since then I have done everything I can to respect that result. Results from across the UK tonight show that after three years of rowing, people just want to get Brexit done.
"Since 2017 I have been lucky enough to hold a number of Ministerial roles, whip, Business Minister and currently a FCO and DFID Minister, however none of these are as important to me as being Pendle’s representative in Parliament and I promise to always put the interests of this area first."
Labour's Azhar Ali, who had been boosted by a visit in election week from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, was Mr Stephenson's nearest challenger, garnering 17,890 votes with Liberal Democrat Gordon Lishman finishing third with 1,548 votes. The Green Party's Clare Hales received 678, while independent candidate John Richardson received 268 votes.
The turn out was 68.4%, slightly down from 2017's 69.17% turnout. There were 172 spoilt ballot papers.