Conservatives win Newark by-election

Friday, June 6, 2014

Robert Jenrick, the new Conservative MP for Newark.
Image: altogetherfool.

The Conservative Party has won the Newark, England by-election but with a reduced majority. Voters gave 45.03% of the vote to Robert Jenrick, while the UK Independence Party candidate Roger Helmer came second with 25.91% of the vote. The turnout was 38,707, 52.67% of the electorate of 73,486.

The by-election was called following the resignation of Patrick Mercer after it was revealed he was paid to lobby and ask questions in Parliament on behalf of the country of Fiji in an investigation by the BBC Panorama programme.

Jenrick is a 32-year-old who works as managing director of Christie's auction house. After the election result was announced, he said: "I want to thank the prime minister for his personal support to my campaign and I want to thank the government for its commitment to re-building Britain. I hope now that I can repay the faith and trust that the people of Newark have put in me as your new member of parliament — and in the months and years to come I can build a reputation as a strong and effective MP."

UKIP's candidate, Roger Helmer, attracted controversy during the election campaign due to past public statements about the acceptability of homosexuality. In remarks to The Sun newspaper, he compared considering homosexuality "distasteful if not viscerally repugnant" to tea preferences. He explained: "Different people may have different tastes. You may tell me that you don’t like Earl Grey tea. That may be a minority view but you are entitled not to like it if you don't like it." Helmer later stated the manner in which his comments were reported showed "the mainstream media are engaged in a feeding frenzy against UKIP, and are prepared to twist the facts to suit their agenda".

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said the party had run a "stunning campaign": "We've been up against probably the biggest ever Conservative machine, defending about their 40th safest seat in the country. If the indications are right, we'll be celebrating a massive advance for our party."

The Liberal Democrat candidate, David Watts, said coming in sixth place "wasn't a good result, but smaller parties often get squeezed in by-elections and that's what's happened to us here". He said the independent campaign by Paul Baggaley had got a lot of support, and "a lot of our voters had transferred to vote against UKIP to make sure UKIP didn't get elected".

Grant Shapps from the Conservative Party said the surge of support for UKIP after the European elections was now "going backwards", while Nigel Farage said Conservative MPs in more marginal seats would be filled with "sheer horror" at UKIP's success.

Newark by-election results
Position Candidate Party Votes Percentage
1 Robert Jenrick Conservative Party 17,431 45.03%
2 Roger Helmer UK Independence Party 10,028 25.91%
3 Michael Payne Labour Party 6,842 17.68%
4 Paul Baggaley Independent 1,891 4.89%
5 David Kirwan Green Party 1,057 2.73%
6 David Watts Liberal Democrats 1,004 2.59%
7 Nick The Flying Brick Loony 168 0.43%
8 Andy Hayes Independent 117 0.30%
9 David Bishop Bus Pass Elvis Party 87 0.22%
10 Dick Rodgers Stop Banks 64 0.17%
11 Lee Woods Patriotic Socialist Party 18 0.05%