Conservative seats wiped out in Oxfordshire

A Liberal Democrat photo op in Botley, with Layla Moran, Charlie Maynard, Calum Miller, Olly Glover, and Freddie van Mierlo celebrating in front of supporters holding Lib Dem placards
Layla Moran is now joined by four new Liberal Democrat MPs in Oxfordshire [BBC]

The Conservatives lost all four of their seats in Oxfordshire, including one held by the party for more than a century.

Liberal Democrat Charlie Maynard defeated Tory Robert Courts to win Witney, the seat previously held by former Conservative prime minister David Cameron until 2016.

The Lib Dems also won the new seats of Henley and Thame, Bicester and Woodstock and Didcot and Wantage, while the party’s Layla Moran comfortably held onto Oxford West and Abingdon.

Victoria Prentis, the attorney general in Rishi Sunak’s government, lost Banbury to Sean Woodcock in what is Labour's first victory in the constituency.

Banbury had been won by a Conservative MP at every general election since 1922.

Calum Miller, a former advisor to Nick Clegg when he was deputy prime minister, won Bicester and Woodstock for the Lib Dems.

He defeated Conservative Rupert Harrison, himself a former advisor to George Osborne when he was chancellor.

Polling had suggested that the seat would be a close fight – but Mr Miller, an Oxfordshire county councillor, won with 19,419 votes and a reasonably comfortable majority of 4,958.

In Witney, Mr Maynard, a Lib Dem cabinet member on West Oxfordshire District Council, beat Mr Courts by 4,339 votes.

Mr Courts had won the seat with a majority of 15,177 over the Lib Dems at the 2019 general election.

The constituency had been won by a Conservative MP at every general election since it was established in 1983.

Tactical voting

Mr Maynard told the BBC the Lib Dem gains in the county were "fabulous" and "extraordinary", but there was an "an awful lot to do".

He also said tactical voting "absolutely played a part".

"On one level that’s fantastic and I’m very grateful for everyone who leant me their vote, because an awful lot of people who are not Lib Dem have voted for me, and most of all I respect that and I’m grateful for it, and I will remember that," he said.

In Didcot and Wantage, Olly Glover won the seat for the Lib Dems, winning 21,793 votes. Conservative MP for Wantage from 2019, David Johnston, won 15,560.

In Henley and Thame - largely made up of the former Henley constituency - another Lib Dem Oxfordshire county councillor, Freddie van Mierlo, is the new MP.

Henley was previously held by former prime minister Boris Johnson between 2001 and 2008 and Tory grandee Michael Heseltine from 1974 until 2001.

Its Conservative MP John Howell stepped down before Thursday’s general election.

'Strong voice'

Following a photocall in Botley alongside Oxfordshire's new Liberal Democrat MPs, Ms Moran told the BBC she was "functioning on fumes, but they’re joyous fumes" following an hour and a half of sleep.

She said: "This is truly historic. The fact that we got five out of seven [MPs in Oxfordshire] is just outstanding.

"We now have a really strong voice for Oxfordshire in Parliament."

She said they would be tackling issues such as housebuilding, infrastructure, and the environment, including sewage in rivers.

"There is no river in our county that isn’t affected by sewage," she said.

"Rather than just being the lone voice punching occasionally above my weight, there’s five of us now.

"We’ll get to spread the load but make it five times louder when it counts."

Former Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds, could be part of new Prime Minister Keir Starmer’s cabinet, held her Oxford East seat.

Ms Dodds won 19,541 votes and her closest challenger, the Green Party’s Sushila Dhall, received 5,076 votes.

"I’m so grateful again that they’ve put their faith in me to represent them once more," she said afterwards.

Country-wide the electorate had "given a very clear verdict", and "desperately" wanted to see change, she said.

"Now we’ve got a chance to deliver it."

In Banbury, Mr Woodcock, the Labour group leader on Cherwell District Council, won 18,468 votes, with Mrs Prentis winning 15,212 votes.

At the 2019 general election, Mrs Prentis won 34,148 votes and had a majority of 16,813 over Labour.

Mr Woodcock said he was "really, really proud" to be the first Labour MP for Banbury.

He added: "As the area I live in and have grown up in I couldn’t ask for a bigger honour really, so I’m delighted."

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