Nickie Aiken wins Cities of London and Westminster on dark night for Labour
Chuka Umunna limps into second but splits vote against the Tories
13 December, 2019 — By Tom Foot and Helen Chapman
The former council leader shakes hands with Gordon Nardell
NICKIE Aiken has swept the Conservatives to victory in the hotly contested Cities of London and Westminster marginal this morning (Friday) on a sobering night for the Labour Party across the country.
The former Westminster Council leader won the high profile seat for the Tories with Lib Dem contender Chuka Umunna coming in second ahead of Labour’s Gordon Nardell.
Karen Buck comfortably held Westminster North for Labour but warned the party had suffered a “disastrous night” nationally.
Speaking at the count in the Queen Elizabeth Centre, Ms Aiken said: “I started on this journey 14 years ago when I thought I should show my daughter Georgia that women can succeed in public life and in politics. I am so proud that this comprehensive girl is now a member of parliament. It shows that it doesn’t matter where you are coming from it is but where you are going.”
She warned frustration over Brexit had been a significant factor, adding: “I voted remain but it is not time to move on. Enough is enough. Let’s work together to show this country can really be the fantastic place that it is.”
Mark Field, the former Conservative minister, stood down in October three months after he was suspended for manhandling a Greenpeace protester, paving the way for Ms Aiken’s selection. Mr Field had held the seat since 2002.
The Tory vote share was down on the 2017 election while the Lib Dems dramatically increased their share by almost 20 per cent. The huge gain split the vote against the Conservatives but Mr Umunna did hang around to answer questions about his decision to stand.
He said: “It’s fair to say we set out to climb Everest but although we were not that far from the summit, we did not reach it. It was a remarkable campaign. Now for all our sakes, for our country, we need the next Parliament to do far better in many respects.”
Mr Nardell, who the exit poll had tipped to take the seat, said: “I’ll say to the Prime Minister: We are going nowhere.” He thanked the hundreds of young people who had joined the campaign who he said “reject the politics and language of seeking scapegoats”.
The Cities of London and Westminster constituency has been held by the Conservatives since the constituency was created in 1950.
In Westminster North, Ms Buck predictably held her seat with a massive majority of 23,240 votes.
She said: “Although I am delighted tonight it is clearly a very bad night indeed – a disastrous night, I think it is fair to say, for the party I represent and love. And whilst some of that is due to the challenges of Brexit having divided us and divided the country, that is clearly not the only reason. Starting tomorrow we have to learn the lessons of this defeat and face up to it.”
Calls for Jeremy Corbyn to step down as leader of the Labour Party followed as exit polls predicted a landslide majority for the Conservative Party with a possible 357 seats.
He last night ruled out not quitting immediately but said he would not want to lead the party in a future general election.
Ms Buck said in her speech: “I would also like to thank the other candidates for a very civil campaign. It is a matter of honour to be re-elected to serve the people of Westminster again and I will do so to the best of my ability.”
She won a majority ahead of Conservative candidate James MacFarlane who won 12,481 votes.
Cities of London and Westminster
Vote share 39.9%
Vote share change: -6.7
Vote share 30.7%
Vote share change: +19.6
Vote share 27.2%
Vote share change:-11.2
Vote share 1.7%
Vote share change: -0.4
Christian Peoples Alliance
Vote share 0.3%
Vote share change: +0.3
Dirk van Heck
Vote share 0.2%