A humbled but delighted John Hayes told me this morning he will stay on as MP for South Holland and the Deepings for as long as the electorate want him.
Conservative Mr Hayes easily won a sixth term despite spirited opposition from the Labour Party’s Voyteck Kowalewski.
Mr Hayes received 35,179 out of the 50,314 unspoilt papers which was 69.9 per cent of the vote, up from 29,303 and 59.6 per cent in 2015.
After the declaration at Springfields Exhibition Centre in Spalding, he said: “I’m obviously elated, delighted and very humbled, with a strong sense of duty.
“It was a really strong night here. I didn’t expect to get such a big majority.
“I will continue to work for this constituency. My prevailing ambition has always been to be a constituency MP. I actually get an immense thrill from taking up difficult cases for people, their causes and campaigns and trying to better people’s lives and change the wellbeing of people who live where I live. So that has to be my first priority.
“I’ve had a chance to serve in Government, which few get, and I’ve been delighted to do that, but my first priority has always been my role as a hard-working constituency MP.
“I will stay serving this constituency as long as people want me. It’s great to have a sixth term. Very few people have that chance, I know that.
“I started off in this when I was a little boy living in a council estate in south east London who wanted to be a Conservative MP. My dad, who was a factory worker, said ‘if that’s what you want to do darling, then that’s what you must do’ and that’s where the journey began and I’ve never really changed from that.
“I’m more driven now than ever and more uncynical about it really.”
I started off in this when I was a little boy living in a council estate in south east London who wanted to be a Conservative MP
On the disappointing night for his party, Mr Hayes said: “Obviously there’s been some disappointments. I’m sorry to hear that Stewart Jackson lost in Peterborough. I haven’t yet checked out the overall picture but it was clearly a very mixed night for my party.”
And on his own son William (16), who was unable to support his father as much as usual because of GCSE exams, he said: “ I know he would like to go in to politics and who knows what might happen in the future?”
1 - John Hayes (Conservatives) 35,179 (69.9%)
2 - Voyteck Kowalewski (Labour) 10,282 (20.4%)
3 - Nicola Smith (UKIP) 2,185 (4.3%)
4 - Julia Cambridge (Lib Dem) 1,433 (2.9%)
5 - Dan Wilshire (Greens) 894 (1.8%)
6 - Rick Stringer (Independent) 342 (0.7%)
Ballot papers issued 50,399
Ballot papers rejected 84