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General election 2019: Labour retain Canterbury

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image copyrightReuters
image captionRosie Duffield increased her majority to 1,836

Labour has held the "ultra-marginal" seat of Canterbury with an increased majority.

Rosie Duffield took the seat from the Tories in 2017 by just 187 votes, and has increased her majority to 1,836.

Marginals such as the city, where the majority in 2017 was under 2% - about 1,000 votes - are hotly contested.

During the campaign in the Kent city, a row erupted after Liberal Democrat candidate Tim Walker stood down because he feared dividing the Remain vote.

After he stood down, the Lib Dems said they would select a new candidate, and Claire Malcomson stood in his place.

Ms Duffield, who polled 29,018 votes, ahead of the Conservative candidate Anna Firth's 27,182, said: "I am absolutely thrilled, we've bucked the national trend here once again.

"It's a terribly sad picture nationally but I am so excited that I get to keep the best job in the world."

She added: "We absolutely have to look at why we've lost two elections given that this government are doing so badly and failing people on benefits.

"There are 4.5 million children living in poverty so we should've done so much better than this."

image captionCharlie and Natalie Elphicke were both at the count in Dover

In Dover Natalie Elphicke, the wife of the constituency's former Tory MP Charlie Elphicke, successfully stood for election in his place - and nearly doubled his majority from 6,437 to 12,278.

She said: "It reflected that there's been a lot of money, jobs and delivery here for Dover and Deal. So a new hospital and £1bn of investment has really begun to make the change."

Mr Elphicke, who had held the seat since 2010, is facing trial next year on three counts of sexual assault against two women. He denies any wrongdoing.

Mrs Elphicke was selected to run for the Conservatives after her husband lost the Tory whip.

Speaking after his wife's victory, Mr Elphicke said: "She'll be a fantastic member of parliament and I think it's really great that Dover will have a female MP for the first time.

"Mrs Elphicke is going to be doing a brilliant job."

Analysis

By Lauren Moss, political editor, BBC South East

As the results came in in the early hours of the morning it was looking like the exit poll was largely correct - a storming victory for the Conservatives.

This result indicates a huge success for Boris Johnson's "Get Brexit Done" strategy during this election campaign and that 51.8% South East leave result in 2016 has resonated with voters.

It is very likely the EU referendum leave result here played a large part, but failed to break through in remain areas like Tunbridge Wells.

Despite the close general election result of 2017, Canterbury was actually the first seat in the South East to declare overnight. Rosie Duffield held the seat for Labour increasing her majority to 1836 votes and keeping Canterbury the only red patch in the whole of Kent.

After the result she said she was "absolutely thrilled", but when asked about whether Labour should have a leadership change she said it was something the party needed to "look at".

MPs have been elected in 17 constituencies across the county. In Folkestone and Hythe, Conservative MP Damian Collins has been re-elected, and the Tories held Ashford; Sevenoaks; Tunbridge Wells; Tonbridge and Malling; Faversham and Mid Kent; Maidstone and the Weald; Sittingbourne and Sheppey; Rochester and Strood; Gravesham; Gillingham and Rainham; South Thanet; Dartford; Chatham and Aylesford; North Thanet.

Canterbury remains the only seat in the county not to be held by the Conservatives.

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