Ian Liddle-Grainger set to 'graciously retire' after election loss

Ian Liddle-Grainger
Ian Liddle-Grainger said he going to retire [BBC]

Ian Liddle-Grainger, the long standing West of England MP, has said he will "graciously retire" after losing his parliamentary seat in the election.

Rachel Gilmour, the Liberal Democrat candidate, won the new seat for Tiverton and Minehead on Thursday.

Mr Liddell-Grainger received 14,819 votes while Ms Gilmour got 18,326.

"I'm just going to graciously retire, I've done 23 years and had a thoroughly interesting time," Mr Liddell-Grainger said.

A man with white hair and a pink shirt
Mr Liddle-Grainger said he will celebrate his time in office with his team [UK Parliament]

Mr Liddle-Grainger was first elected in Somerset in the 2001 general election as the MP for Bridgwater with 40.4% of the vote and was re-elected in 2005.

Before the 2010 election Bridgwater was abolished and replaced with Bridgwater and West Somerset and he won with 45.5% of the vote.

He won again in 2015, 2017 and 2019 where he increased his vote share to 62.1%.

The Bridgwater seat had been Conservative since 1950 until Thursday's election. But, Mr Liddle-Grainger stood instead in the newly-former Tiverton and Minehead seat, which went to the Lib Dems.

Speaking to the BBC after his loss, he said: "I hope I've helped in small ways where I can and I think the time has come to say gently say thank you very much.

"I'd like to thank my constituents for being their MP.

"I haven't got everything right and I acknowledge that and what I've got wrong is my fault and my fault alone."

Mr Liddle-Grainger added he was particularly proud of Hinkley Point C and the Gravity battery factory saying these were "phenomenal achievements" which the area "richly deserved".

Around 11,000 people are currently working at the Hinkley Point C construction site in Somerset to build the new nuclear power station and Jaguar Land Rover-owner Tata says it will invest £4bn in a brownfield site near Bridgwater to build its new battery factory.

An open space which used to be a factory
The brownfield site for Gravity was home to an ordnance factory for most of the 20th Century [Gravity]

Reflecting on his time in office, Mr Liddle-Grainger said he had "no regrets".

"I think with these enormously large seats, you need to spend more time there, I was trying to do too many things and I think it showed.

"I don't have regrets, I feel like I've done my best."

He added he had always known the Liberal Democrats could have a resurgence in the West Country and didn't blame Rishi Sunak for the Conservative losses.

"There is no point blaming anybody, we've created this over a long period with successive prime ministers and problems that we created," he said.

"You've got to be quite open about it, yes of course I'd like it to be a different outcome and a different sort of battle but here we are."

Mr Liddle-Grainger said Labour showed a coherent message which helped them.

"They worked very hard to be coherent and I think it showed.

"I wish Keir Starmer all the luck, he will find it difficult and like all prime ministers it will ultimately end in tears."

Follow BBC Somerset on Facebook and X. Send your story ideas to us on email or via WhatsApp on 0800 313 4630.

More on this story