Labour gain in Leeds as student vote and '˜Corbyn effect' topples long serving Lib Dem
A GOOD night for Labour in Leeds has seen long-serving Lib Dem Greg Mulholland toppled after a surge in new voter registrations in the city's student heartland.
City councillor Alex Sobel snatched the Leeds North West seat by more than 4,000 votes, overturning Mr Mulholland’s 2,900-vote majority.
Overall in Leeds, Labour gained one seat and held on to four others.
The Conservatives also held on to Pudsey, Morley and Elmet, fighting off strong challenges from Labour in the former two marginals, one by just 331 votes.
There had been whispers throughout the night at Leeds Town Hall that Mr Mulholland, first elected in 2005, was looking vulnerable in Leeds North West.
After his win, Mr Sobel paid tribute to the thousands of young people who had helped steer him to victory.
“A lot of people said that young people would not turn out to vote in this election,” he said.
“The young people of Leeds North West didn’t just turn out to vote. They were piling into the polling stations.
“This election puts to bed the myth that young people don’t care about politics.”
The Conservatives’ Andrea Jenkyns - defending a majority of just 422 - hung on to Morley and Outwood, fighting off a Labour surge from Neil Dawson.
The new mum, who gave birth to son Clifford just 10 weeks ago, said she was “relieved, exhausted and just blown away” by the result.
During a tense evening, the result looked to be on a knife edge, but in the end Ms Jenkyns increased her majority to 2,104.
Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post afterwards, Ms Jenkyns said: “I’ve got no nails left!
“I’m relieved, tired, it’s been a hard campaign.
“I’m just blown away really. Especially being a new mum as well.
“I know it’s been a tough night across the country and I’m just over the moon and so relieved, and proud to continue really. Thank God we are where we are.”
She said baby Clifford had been with her on the campaign trail “smiling away”, joking that “I got to kiss my own baby, which is unusual for a politician”.
Elsewhere in Leeds, Hilary Benn held onto his Leeds Central seat by a massive majority.
The result had never been in much doubt, but an expected strong challenge from UKIP and the Greens also failed to materialise.
Mr Benn thanked “the good voters of Leeds Central for putting their trust and confidence in me once again”.
And he had strong words for Theresa May, telling her: “Six weeks ago the PM asked the British people to give her a strong mandate.
“It looks as if the British people have declined to do so.
“This is a personal defeat for Theresa May. “But it is more than that. It is an emphatic rejection of seven years of Conservative austerity which has been borne on the back of the poorest in our society, including many of my constituents.
“And if you want to know why so many people, infused by Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign and our radical vision for Britain’s future, came out and voted Labour today, it is because they have heard our message of hope.”
The closest result of the night in Leeds was in the Pudsey and Horsforth constituency.
Conservative Stuart Andrew held onto the seat by a tiny margin of just 331 votes after a strong campaign from Labour’s Ian McCargo.
Speaking after being re-elected, Mr Andrew said: “I have always thought this is a marginal seat.
“I’m delighted that we managed to increase the number of people that voted in the constituency.
“I want to look forward to getting on to represent the constituency.”
On the Conservatives’ national election campaign, he said: “I think the (Conservative) campaign had its faults. I think we have to be up front about that and we have to reflect on that.”
He admitted there were “questions” for the party to look at in the future.
In Leeds East, strong Jeremy Corbyn ally Richard Burgon also comfortably held the seat.
He said: “I’m honoured the people of East Leeds have chosen to re-elect me with more votes than last time, and I am looking forward to carrying on working hard for people in our area, and also to trying to make a contribution nationally to the kind of change we want.”
In Leeds West, Rachel Reeves also held onto her seat comfortably.
She said voters in Leeds had “chosen hope over cynicism, our schools and our hospitals over austerity and a more equal society over a more polarised one”.
She added: “Whatever the results overall, we can be incredibly proud in our party of the campaign we have conducted, a positive campaign, a campaign fought seat by seat on the ground.”
In Leeds North East, Fabian Hamilton more than doubled his majority to 16,991 to reclaim the seat for Labour.
Alec Shelbrooke was returned in Elmet and Rothwell for the Conservatives.