High youth turnout and Brexit apathy caused Labour’s emphatic win says Tooting Tory candidate.
Dan Watkins lost out to Dr Rosena Allin-Khan by 15,458 votes as Labour saw a higher than expected win in the Conservative’s target constituency.
Mr Watkins was hoping the issue of Brexit would be the most important factor for many voters in an area where 75% voted to Remain.
He said: “It’s never fun to lose. It was curious for me in many ways because the Labour manifesto was essentially the same as the Conservative manifesto over leaving the EU.
“We both support the freedom of movement and access to the free market, yet on the doorstep voters seemed to think Labour’s position was substantially different.
“But at the end of the day the voters decided it wasn’t an important issue.”
He added that Dr Allin-Khan’s campaign was not very consistent due to her lack of support for a second EU referendum.
Dr Allin-Khan defied the Labour whip and voted against the triggering of Article 50 in parliament earlier this year.
Mr Watkins would have voted for the bill and believed this decision to oppose it was a tactic to build up her support in the constituency.
Tooting was a Conservative target seat but the results saw them fall by 8.8% to 19,236 votes compared to the 2015 General Election.
Mr Watkins was hoping for a historic result in Tooting despite it being Labour since its creation in 1974.
The seat, which the mayor of London Sadiq Khan previously held, had a high turnout at 74.7%.
Mr Watkins suspects this included a lot of new voters registering and voting for the Labour party.
Dr Allin-Khan attributed her victory not so much to Brexit but issues such as the cuts to schools and the NHS, echoing Mr Watkins’ belief that Brexit had not been the deciding factor.