Lib Dems dominate seats in the Thames Valley

  • Five Lib Dem MPs met in Botley to celebrate their successes across Oxfordshire as Juliette Fletcher reports

That bungee jump, that paddle-boarding, that trip to Thorpe Park - none of it was in vain.

Sir Ed Davey certainly fought an unusual campaign, but it brought results, nowhere more so than in the Meridian region.

Their top target seats, like Lewes, Eastbourne and Winchester were picked off easily. But the really dramatic gains were in the Thames Valley. David Cameron's old seat, Witney, Boris Johnson's old seat in Henley and Theresa May's old seat Maidenhead all fell to the Lib Dems.

  • Henley and Thame has been Conservative since 1910, says winning candidate Freddie Van Mierlo (Lib Dem)

Surrey Heath, where Michael Gove used to be the MP was a Lib Dem win, as were Newbury, Sir John Redwood's former seat Wokingham and the new seats Didcot and Wantage, and Bicester and Woodstock.

  • Newbury's winning candidate Lee Dillon (Lib Dem) explains what he wants to achieve during his time in office

North East Hampshire, which used to have the biggest Tory majority in Britain also fell to the Lib Dems. Next door in North West Hampshire the Tories clung on but their majority fell from 26,000 to 3,000.

When Sir Ed Davey beat Oxford MP Layla Moran to the Lib Dem leadership in 2020, some party members were slightly underwhelmed. He'd been a minister in the coalition, and seemed to some...well, a bit dull.

Lib Dem Layla Moran held the Oxford West & Abingdon seat. Credit: ITV News Meridian

The 2024 campaign was designed to change all that, but few Lib Dems thought it would work as well as it did.

Some party members with long memories look back fondly to the 1990s when they won a string of seats in the south, but this is on a different scale.

Yes it's an anti-Tory vote, and yes, there was tactical voting - but this was a great night for the Lib Dems, and a personal triumph for Sir Ed Davey.

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