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  1. Phil Hornby

The Last Word, June 2017

A new Parliament; a new cabinet; and new MPs across the Meridian region.

With the clock about to start ticking on Brexit, and with the Conservatives in chaos, a look back on the campaign that promised so much for the Tories - and left them reeling ... even though they won.

  • Alan Whitehead MP, Southampton Test - Labour
  • Layla Moran MP, Oxford West & Abingdon - Lib Dem
  • Tim Loughton MP, East Worthing & Shoreham - Con

.... debate the result that took so many by surprise, and look ahead at a difficult few months ahead.

Don't be ridiculous!

– Tim Loughton

The response of Tim Loughton, the former children's minister and Sussex MP, when we asked what his message would have been to Theresa May during the campaign, about the so-called 'dementia tax'. It was a point in the campaign that proved a turning point in so many constituencies, and saw some Conservative MPs lose their seats.

Phil Hornby reports on resignation of Tim Farron

Tim Farron has resigned as Lib Dem leader Credit: ITV

Tim Farron has quit as Liberal Democrat leader less than a week after the General Election after facing scrutiny over his Christian views.

The 47-year-old, who succeeded Nick Clegg in the wake of the party's shocking 2015 election results, stood down hours after the party's senior frontbench spokesman Lord Paddick quit in protest at Mr Farron's views.

The few gains the Lib Dems made last week - such as Eastbourne and Oxford West and Abingdon - masked the real disappointment the party felt at their result, writes political correspondent Phil Hornby.

At their Brighton conference last autumn, confidence was sky-high: their strategy to appeal to the 48 per cent who voted Remain looked to them like a surefire and quick route tor recovery. It didn't happen.

Brexit didn't get much of a look-in during the campaign. Indeed Stephen Lloyd only won his Eastbourne seat by distancing himself from Farron's EU policy.

But there are other reasons too. Lib Dems say voter reaction to Farron's initially equivocal answers during the campaign to questions about gay sex was hostile and long-lasting. It seems he was enormously damaged.

Brits, it seems, don't like to mix politics with religion. It is significant that the event which seemed to lead to tonight's announcement was the resignation of Brian Paddick, the gay former senior Met policeman. So there will be a leadership contest in the Lib Dems - and more importantly for them, a real debate about what their future should be in a political system which seems to be moving back to the traditional 2-party Con v Lab fight.

– Phil Hornby


'We're off to drink a toast to Theresa' - Eastleigh MP backs PM after election win

Mims Davies swore her allegiance to Theresa May after winning her Eastleigh seat with an increased majority.

The Conservatives regained the Hampshire seat with 28,889 votes to the Liberal Democrats' 14,710, the latter squeezed by a resurgent support for Labour who got 11,454.

The UKIP vote was massively reduced to 1,477 while the Greens finished fifth with 750.

Rachel Hepworth reports:

Rachel spoke to Mims Davies, the Liberal Democrat candidate Mike Thornton, and UKIP's Malcolm Jones.

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