Polls close in ‘knife-edge’ Chesham and Amersham by-election

May’s Holyrood election (PA Wire)
22:09pm, Thu 17 Jun 2021
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Polls have closed in the Chesham and Amersham by-election, with the Liberal Democrats hoping for an upset in the historically safe Conservative seat.

The constituency in Buckinghamshire has been held by the Tories since its creation in 1974, but the Liberal Democrats have insisted it could “go down to the wire” ahead of polls opening on Thursday morning.

Chesham and Amersham, named after the market towns in the constituency, has had just two MPs in its history, Sir Ian Gilmour until 1992, and former Welsh secretary Dame Cheryl Gillan until her death in April.

Chesham & Amersham: general election results since 1997 (PA Graphics)

Eight hopefuls are in the running for the seat, including former Ford executive Peter Fleet for the Conservative Party and entrepreneur Sarah Green for the Liberal Democrats.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Ed Davey has been a regular fixture in the constituency during the campaign in efforts to win over voters, while Boris Johnson also made an appearance in the run up to the by-election.

Dame Cheryl took the seat with a majority of 16,233 in the 2019 general election, more than half of the vote, so a Lib Dem victory would be a major shock.

Sir Ed, who made a polling day visit to the seat, said: “I really think it’s going to be on a knife-edge tonight, I don’t know which way it’s going to go.

“If we can get that vote out (it) may be something really spectacular, it will certainly be a really big swing to the Liberal Democrats.”

As polls closed Ms Green said: “Whatever happens tonight, people in Chesham and Amersham know they will no longer be taken for granted.”

Conservative sources have indicated that they expect to retain the seat but fear a much reduced majority.

The party has concentrated its efforts on getting its support out to vote, fearing that a low turnout would play into Lib Dem hands.

Mr Fleet tweeted a picture less than an hour before polls closed showing the efforts to rally support, despite the wet weather.

Dame Cheryl Gillan (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

Labour polled third in the 2019 general election, but the party’s candidate Natasa Pantelic will be hoping to make history with a shock win.

Meanwhile, Carolyne Culver is standing for the Green Party, Brendan Donnelly for Rejoin EU, Alex Wilson for Reform UK, Carla Gregory for Breakthrough Party and Adrian Oliver for Freedom Alliance.

Dame Cheryl, who served as Welsh secretary between May 2010 and September 2012, died at the age of 68 on April 4 following a lengthy illness.

She was a long-term opponent of HS2, likely to be one of the key issues for voters as they head to the polls.

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