Labour and Liberal Democrats make massive gains - the full picture in the South East

Big names have lost their seats in the Meridian region. Credit: PA

Just after 4am, Penny Mordaunt's defeat in Portsmouth North told the story of the night.

Her vote halved. Reform UK's vote soared. And Labour nipped in to win the seat with a majority of 800 - those 8,000 Reform UK votes cost the Tories dear.

A few minutes earlier, a few miles along the coast, another cabinet minister Gillian Keegan lost her seat - but here it was to the Lib Dems.

The Tories in the south had to fight a war on two fronts, against Labour in some places, against the Lib Dems in others, and they lost decisively.

Penny Mordaunt lost her Portsmouth North seat. Credit: ITV Meridian

This was a political revolution in the Tory heartland. Many voters in the south were determined to get the Conservatives out, and Nigel Farage's party were more than happy to help.

For Labour, it's been an historic night. Swathes of the Meridian region, places which have only ever had a Tory MP, are Labour now - places like Bracknell, where Labour overturned a Tory majority of nearly 20,000. And Folkestone and Hythe, where the Tory majority last time round was even bigger.

The Liberal Democrats are celebrating too. In North East Hampshire, which used to have the largest Tory majority in the country, the Lib Dems ousted Ranil Jayawardena, a cabinet minister in the Truss government.

And in Tunbridge Wells, that symbol of Conservative middle England, the Lib Dems triumphed. In 2019 the Tory majority here was 15,000.

Sir Peter Bottomley in the House. Credit: PA

Everywhere you look in the Meridian region there are remarkable results. Labour unseated Sir Peter Bottomley, the Father of the House, in Worthing West. In Southend West, the seat of the late Sir David Amess, Labour won too.

The Isle of Wight, divided into two seats for the first time is now politically divided: East is Tory, West is Labour.

For the Conservatives, the only consolation is their most disastrous ever election in the south could have been even worse.

Here and there they did manage to hold onto seats, including Basildon and Billericay where Tory chairman Richard Holden won by the skin of his teeth.

Tom Tugendhat, who won easily in Tonbridge, will almost certainly be a candidate for the Conservative leadership.

Tom Tugendhat is seen as a centrist member of the Conservative Party. Credit: PA

The Lib Dems, who began this election targetting just four seats in our region - Eastbourne, Lewes, Winchester and Wokingham - won them easily and much more besides.

They really are back in the game now.

But this was Labour's night. Big towns and cities like Swindon, Bournemouth, Southampton, Reading Portsmouth and the Medway Towns are theirs now.

There were no no-go areas for Labour in this election.

The political map of the south, the true-blue Tory south, from Dorset up to Buckinghamshire. across to Kent, is now dotted in yellow and red. It's the Tory heartland no more.

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