General election 2019: Tories claim big scalps in Wales

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Fay Jones, Virginia Crosbie and Sarah Atherton will represent the Conservatives in Westminster
Image caption,
Fay Jones, Virginia Crosbie and Sarah Atherton will represent the Conservatives in Westminster

Wales' first three female Conservative MPs have been elected as the party claimed six key seats from Labour.

Sarah Atherton's 2,131 majority win in Wrexham was followed by Virginia Crosbie taking Ynys Mon and Fay Jones winning Brecon and Radnorshire.

The Tories also turned Bridgend, Vale of Clwyd, Clwyd South and Delyn from red to blue in other targeted seats.

Labour remained the biggest party while Plaid Cymru held their four seats, but the Liberal Democrats were wiped out.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and First Minister Mark Drakeford spoke on Friday evening, a Downing Street spokeswoman said.

"They talked about their shared commitment to the union and to growth and prosperity for Wales within a strengthened United Kingdom," she said.

 "The prime minister made clear how the UK is strongest when all four nations unite and all work together to unleash the potential of the entire country."

He also said "we can get Brexit done" - "enabling us to move forward together", the spokeswoman added.

Media caption,
Labour’s Madeleine Moon was one of those who lost her seat

Labour now has 22 seats in Wales, with the six they lost taking the Tories' tally to 14 - the party's best result since 1983.

Turnout in Wales was 66.6%, down from the 2017 election by 2%.

Speaking after securing a majority, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his party would now be able to "get Brexit done".

"With this election I think we put an end to all those miserable threats of a second referendum," he said.

"You may only have lent us your vote and you may not think of yourself as a natural Tory... your hand may have quivered over the ballot paper and you may intend to return to Labour next time around and if that is the case, I am humbled that you have put your trust in me and you have put your trust in us, and I and we will never take your support for granted."

He added the party would deliver on each and every one of its campaign promises, and now spoke "for everyone from Kensington to Clwyd South".

Media caption,
Laura McAllister says "getting Brexit done" was a successful slogan for the Tories

Where did the Tories make gains?

Speaking after her win, Sarah Atherton, who is filling the seat vacated by Labour's Ian Lucas, said she was "delighted and privileged" to be the first Welsh female Conservative MP.

"The people of Wrexham wanted Brexit done and delivered. I think that's why we have got a majority of 2,000 tonight," she said.

The Tories also took Bridgend from Madeleine Moon, with Jamie Wallis winning by 1,157 votes.

Ms Moon said: "Bridgend now has an MP with no political experience, other than three years on a parish council. We're in a huge mess in Bridgend."

Political analyst Laura McAllister said "getting Brexit done" had been a successful campaign message from the Tories which had "tapped into the mood of the Welsh public very well".

Former Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns, who resigned from the cabinet at the start of the campaign following a row about what he knew about a former aide's involvement in the collapse of a rape trial, held on to his seat in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Wales vote share

After 40 of 40 seats

Party % share
Labour 40.9%
Conservative 36.1%
Plaid Cymru 9.9%
Liberal Democrat 6.0%
The Brexit Party 5.4%
Green 1.0%

Wales vote share change since 2017

After 40 of 40 seats

  • The Brexit Party +5.4 Gained
  • Conservative +2.5 Gained
  • Liberal Democrat +1.5 Gained
  • Green +0.7 Gained
  • Plaid Cymru -0.5 Lost
  • Labour -8.0 Lost

If you cannot see the graphic click here.

Another former Welsh Secretary, David Jones, who was originally going to stand down in Clwyd West before changing his mind, also held on to his seat, while Monmouth, Preseli Pembrokeshire, Carmarthen West and Aberconwy remained blue, as did Montgomeryshire with new incumbent Craig Williams.

Tory David TC Davies, who held on to his Monmouth seat with 52% of the votes, said his party needed to move towards the centre in order to win the next general election.

"There is going to be a huge expectation on us, I'm very well aware a lot of people voted Conservative for the first time in this election so I don't see this as a mandate for some sort of extreme government, I see this as a mandate for a government on the centre political ground."

He reiterated a promise to invest in public services and raise the minimum wage, adding: "It is not true that we wanted to privatise or sell off the NHS, we will never undermine our national health service."

Former Tory MP Glyn Davies said he was "absolutely astonished" by the party's performance.

Paul Davies, the Conservative leader in the Welsh assembly, said: "After winning seats like Delyn and Clwyd South we now have the joint largest number of Welsh Conservative MPs in Parliament, to help ensure that a positive voice for Wales is heard loud and clear in Parliament.

"We now need to refocus ahead of the Welsh Parliamentary elections in 2021 and ensure that this failing Welsh Labour government, who have been running our health service for the last 20 years, are held to account and the people of Wales get the services they deserve."

What went wrong for Labour?

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Labour's Anna McMorrin bucked the trend to increase her majority over the Conservatives in the marginal Cardiff North seat

Despite its losses, Labour held on to the marginal constituencies of Gower, Alyn & Deeside and Cardiff North - all of which were at risk to the Tories - the latter seeing Anna McMorrin increase her majority to 6,982.

Ms McMorrin blamed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for the party's defeat nationally and said it needed to rebuild without him in charge.

"He's shown tonight that he's lost good, decent, hardworking members of Parliament up and down the country, who are needed for this country to rebuild and to ensure that we're protected and represented and that we create a fairer society," she said.

"That can't happen now, and I think the only person who can take responsibility is is our leader."

Mark Tami, whose majority was cut from more than 5,000 to just 213, is the last Labour MP left in north Wales - representing Alyn & Deeside.

"We've obviously suffered a very bad defeat and I've lost many colleagues, I've just about hung on," he said.

Image caption,
It was a bad night for Labour in Wales, especially in the north east

"There are a number of issues - Brexit was an issue, the leadership of the party was an issue and we really have to look at ourselves and decide which way we go forwards.

"I think our policy on Brexit was, well... if you stand in the middle of the road, you get run over.

"There were some very positive things we were offering but it wasn't cutting through... this is really 'rethinking who we are' territory."

Labour also held on narrowly to Newport West while Llanelli, Neath, Rhondda, Ogmore, Pontypridd, Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Cardiff Central, Cardiff West, Cynon Valley, Islwyn, Merthyr and Rhymney, Torfaen, Cardiff South and Penarth, and its two Newport and two Swansea seats remained red.

Plaid Cymru was forecast to take three seats, down one, but held on to all four - Carmarthen East, Ceredigion, Dwyfor Meirionnydd, and Arfon, where Hywel Williams increased his slender majority of 92 to 2,781.

Lib Dems lose only Welsh MP

Image caption,
Conservative supporters celebrate victories at the count in Builth Wells

The Liberal Democrats were left without a seat after Jane Dodds was ousted by the Conservative Ms Jones, who won the Brecon and Radnorshire seat back for her party just four months after it was lost in a by-election.

Ms Jones, who won by 7,131 votes, said she was "honoured".

Ms Dodds wrote on Twitter: "I'm not going to lie, last night was a really rough night - not just for me, but for the Liberal Democrats across the UK."

What are Plaid Cymru saying?

Image caption,
Plaid Cymru's Ben Lake celebrates with his supporters in Ceredigion after increasing his majority

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price defended his party's decision to form a remain pact with others who wanted to stay in the EU.

He also attacked Labour for the "horrendous and indefensible error of trying to sit on the fence" on Brexit.

"They lost trust and integrity and that was reflected in the result that they had," he added.

Media caption,
"Delighted and privileged"
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

How have other Labour MPs reacted?

Labour's Stephen Kinnock, who held on to his Aberavon seat, said it was a "disastrous night" for his party and he was "shell-shocked and heartbroken".

He blamed Mr Corbyn's "weak leadership" and "deeply damaging decision to back a second referendum".

He added: "We've had nine long years of the Tories gutting our public services, causing a huge rise in homelessness, and triggering an explosion in child poverty and yet we have suffered a crushing defeat."

Following Labour's poor performance across the UK, Mr Corbyn said he intended to step down as leader.

Labour's Tonia Antoniazzi was cheered and heckled during her Gower acceptance speech when she said Brexit voters were "taken advantage of".

She said the people of Gower had been "disastrously served by a political shambles that has served to bring the UK into disrepute".

Chris Bryant, who held on to his Labour Rhondda seat, called it the "worst night for Labour since 1935".

He said his party was now looking at "being out in the wilderness for even longer" unless there was "some serious soul-searching".

Stephen Doughty, who has held the Cardiff South and Penarth seat for seven years, tweeted: "I fear the future for our younger generation. I fear for the public institutions and integrity of our country. Dark times. Some of us must offer new hope amidst despair."

Media caption,
Chris Bryant said the night was a "catastrophe" for the Labour Party

Mr Drakeford said that despite Labour's losses in Wales, the results did not change some fundamental issues.

"People in north east Wales need jobs and will need a Welsh Labour Government to defend those jobs and help them with it," he said.

"But we will be investing in things which provide housing for people, services for people - those things are important and we have to work harder to communicate those things to people."

But he said although it had been a disappointing night for the party, he did not believe it had alienated voters and Welsh Labour had held a "whole swathe" of valleys seats.

On the future, he said: "Brexit is going to happen, I don't think there's any denying that - we will have to work hard to make sure that they [Westminster Government] understand the implications of that for Wales.

"And where there are bad implications - which there will be - they take those into account and take the necessary actions to mitigate the adverse impacts that Brexit will bring to Wales."

Analysis by Felicity Evans, BBC Wales Political Editor

The political map of Wales has changed enormously. Aside from the single seat of Alyn & Deeside, Labour has been vanquished from north Wales.

The Conservatives are celebrating a return to their high watermark of 1983 when they held 14 seats in Wales, Boris Johnson's Brexit message resonated among Welsh Labour leave voters.

But many Welsh Labour sources say Jeremy Corbyn was a major factor in turning off the party's traditional supporters.

They will also question the approach of their Welsh leader Mark Drakeford.

Should he have done more to "Welshify" this election and distinguish Welsh Labour from the UK party? Was that even achievable given the dominance of the two characters of Mr Corbyn and Mr Johnson?

The Liberal Democrats will rue the day they pushed for this election - their hubris has been mercilessly punished.

And Plaid will breathe a big sigh of relief that they hung on to two ultra marginals, and were let off the hook by a split leave vote in Carmarthen East. Coming third in their target seat of Ynys Mon is a blow that leaves them at the status quo of four seats.

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