General Election 2019: Conservative MP Sir Peter Bottomley holds West Worthing as candidates clash

Worthing West proved to be as safe a seat as its eastern neighbour as long-standing Tory MP Sir Peter Bottomley was re-elected.

Sir Peter Bottomley and his team
Sir Peter Bottomley and his team

In a General Election dominated by the Tories, Sir Peter maintained his majority in the seat he has held since 1997, receiving 30,475 votes.

The 75-year-old became the UK’s oldest MP last night (December 12) – known as the Father of the House of Commons – after Labour’s Dennis Skinner was defeated in the Bolsover constituency.

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Before the result, Sir Peter said another five years with him at the helm would see ‘public service politics’ and pointed to successes such as the outstanding Worthing Hospital and improvements to some schools in the area.

Despite torrential downpours and howling wind for much of the day, turnout remained around the same as the last General Election, at 70 per cent. Sir Peter said he was worried the wet weather would deter voters, but quipped Jeremy Corbyn had driven potential Tories to the polling stations.

In his victory speech, he launched a scathing attack on the Labour leader and Socialist political group Momentum.

“Corbyn, it is time for you to get out of the way,” he said. “Your world view has been rejected, your national view has been rejected and I hope Momentum will leave town and we can get the Labour Party back.”

Labour’s Beccy Cooper came in second place with 15,652 votes – around 3,000 fewer than she managed in the 2017 General Election.

Before the declaration she said the party’s message had gone down well on the doorstep, but the same sticking points came up time and again, such as Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn and ambitious spending plans.

In an empassioned rebuke to Sir Peter’s comments, Mrs Cooper posed the question ‘what makes a good member of Parliament?’ during her concession speech.

“Somebody who fights what they believe in, someone who is current,” she said, addressing Sir Peter directly.

“You have made comments about my leader tonight, that he should step aside. With all due respect, you have been here for 20 years – do you not think it’s time to step aside?

“You are a very lovely man but not a very good member of Parliament for West Worthing. Change needs to come to Worthing West.

“The Tories know their days are numbered here. Bring on the May local elections, bring on 2019 – your guys are passed it.”

Independent candidate David Aherne pointed out he had been ‘booted out of the Green Party’ for ‘being too old’, despite being one year younger than Sir Peter.

Mr Aherne secured the fewest votes of the five candidates, with 689. Ahead of him came the Green Party’s Jo Paul with 2,008 and, in third place, the Liberal Democrats’ Jamie Bennett with 6,024 votes.

It was Sir Peter’s seventh election victory since the Worthing West constituency was created and his largest share of the total vote, at 55.8 per cent.