NEWBURY MP Richard Benyon has said that the message has been received that the Conservatives must move away from austerity; but he doesn’t think another election should be called.
Mr Benyon, who has held the seat since 2005, received 37,399 votes – a 61.5 per cent share and a 0.5 per cent increase on 2015 – and saw his 26,368 majority drop to 24,380.
In his victory speech, Mr Benyon thanked his opponents for “sticking their heads above the parapet” and deciding to stand.
He said: “This is an extraordinary result for us here in West Berkshire and when you see what’s happening around the country, to pull a popular vote like that is a huge achievement for my wonderful team of supporters.
“I just think tonight I hope, with a degree, I hope, comes across with humility, our party have got to do some serious thinking about how we progress from here; and I understand concerns people have in an area like this where we are facing difficulties with our local authority and having enough resources to take things forward; and I want to work with everybody regardless of how they voted or whether they voted at all.
“I want to get the best deal for West Berkshire in the uncertain times as we go ahead towards Brexit and toward the future that we face.
“I’m thrilled with the result.
“I commit myself to every single person in West Berkshire to try and make sure that they have the fruits of the benefits of one of the one of the greatest countries and part of that country that we are lucky enough to live in.”
Speaking on the night, Mr Benyon said that he was concerned about the exit poll indicating a hung Parliament and he never thought the Conservatives would achieve the “ridiculous three-figure majority” first predicted.
Speaking to the NWN on Wednesday Mr Benyon said: “It seems to be sorting itself out.
“That will allow us to govern with the ability to get through the Queen’s Speech and budget and that means we can get on with issues like Brexit and tackling this security situation and also I hope addressing the concerns that people have raised about the public sector.”
Mr Benyon said that although the DUP held differing views from him on social issues, such as gay rights, he had always worked well with them on an individual level.
“People concerned about this can be reassured that nothing like that will change,” Mr Benyon said.
“It’s important that the peace process can continue, at least with the confidence and supply arrangement, which will be based around things like infrastructure, accessibility and getting a Brexit deal that doesn’t harm the Northern Irish economy.”
The Prime Minister called the election to strengthen her hand in the Brexit negotiations, but ended up losing her majority.
When asked how the result would impact Brexit, Mr Benyon said: “The truth that dare not speak its name during the election was there’s quite a lot of agreement between Labour and the Conservatives on Brexit.”
He said he was certain that an arrangement could be reached that would be positive for places like West Berkshire.
Mr Benyon said he was bored with national press reports surrounding the politics of Brexit and what really mattered was what impact it would have on companies and people in his constituency.
The MP, who has fought six elections, said that it was one of the least pleasant that he could remember, with him and his campaigners being abused on social media.
When asked about cuts to public spending and what he meant by his party having to think about how it progressed, Mr Benyon said there was weariness over the impact of austerity.
“I have raised this with the Prime Minister since the election in the 1922 Committee,” he said. “She really clearly said it was message received.”
Mr Benyon said that his party would need to tackle the £2 trillion of debt and find a way for Britain to live within its means.
“Many of us are now campaigning for improving funding for schools and working for people who work in our public sector.
“I think the pay cap has had a huge impact on quality of life on people who work in vital areas of the public sector.”
Mr Benyon said that the country was not ready for another election and that he would question the Government on issues that he thought it was not getting right.
“I’m with Brenda from Bristol,” he said. “I really don’t think there’s any appetite across West Berkshire or the country for another election.
“I’m going to immerse myself in things like the Great Repeal Bill and the environment and other areas of concern that I have.
The combined total votes received by all other candidates in Newbury came to 23,450, meaning Mr Benyon would have a 13,949 majority, even if those votes all went to one opposing candidate.
When asked whether it was time for electoral reform following the result, Mr Benyon said it would only lead to more hung
He said: “PR is not fair. It gives enormous power to smaller parties.
“We have a fair system where five people can stand in a village hall and people can ask them questions and the one they think is best gets more votes and becomes an MP.”