Wimbledon election results: Stephen Hammond vows to represent moderate conservatism

By Will Cracknell and Ed Southgate
December 13 2019, 06.00

Conservative Stephen Hammond pledged to represent the voice of moderate conservatism in Parliament after his narrow election victory in Wimbledon.

Mr Hammond, who beat Liberal Democrat rival Paul Kohler by just 628 votes, acknowledged the challenge he faces in balancing national and constituent interests as Wimbledon MP.

The constituency lies in Merton, which in 2016 voted to remain in the European Union by 62.9%.

Mr Hammond, whose vote share fell 8.1% its lowest ever percentage of 38.4%, said: “I’m a Conservative to my core about everything else. I want to be part of the more moderate wing of the Conservative Party which shapes the party’s future and our future relationship with the European Union.

“That will have a major impact on the next three or four years. Having spoken to the Prime Minister and looked at his political declaration, I am confident that we can get a future relationship with our former partners that will be advantageous to the both of us.

“Protecting EU citizens’ rights, achieving a good economic settlement and good diplomatic and security settlement – those are some of the things I will be working for.”

Mr Hammond’s victory means he will serve his fifth term as the member for Wimbledon and he maintained his party had ambitious plans for the years ahead.

He said: “Britain’s future is bright. This is an election about looking to the future, investment in public services, a stronger economy and a major investment in infrastructure in the United Kingdom.”

Mr Hammond was one of 21 Conservative MPs who had the whip removed when voting to block a no-deal Brexit in September.

Unlike colleagues such as David Gauke and Dominic Grieve however, Hammond was restored to the party.

With less than 1% of the vote separating first and second, Mr Hammond was under no illusion that he had faced a more uncomfortable night than many of his Conservative colleagues.  

He said: “It’s been very close run. I haven’t really had time to be nervous because we’ve been out there fighting for every vote.

“I respected there was quite a lot of opposition in comparison to last time round. It’s not a surprise – this is one of the great remain areas and a lot of people wanted to re-fight the referendum.

“In 2017 I said to people I would do my very best to stop no-deal and I kept that promise. The key is now we can start to talk about the future.”

Beaten Liberal Democrat candidate Paul Kohler, who saw his party’s vote share jump by 22.7% to 19,475, expressed his regret about the lack of pro-European collaboration in the constituency.   

He said: “When canvassing, I found people rejected the extremism of the hard left and the hard right.

“Unfortunately, the progressive Liberals did not form an alliance. Our opponents did.

“The only reason we lost was because the Brexit Party and the Conservatives came together.

“Unfortunately from the progressive side, it was only the Greens and the Lib Dems who were the grown-ups in the room. Other progressive Liberals didn’t.

“Many progressive social democrats in the Labour party didn’t join us which I wish they had done.”

And Mr Kohler was optimistic that the additional 12,273 votes the Liberal Democrats gained in Wimbledon compared to 2017 would not be in vain.

He said: “We will build on the success we achieved here to make sure we win the council in three years’ time.

“I think I’ll run again. I think it’s worth another shot.”

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