General election 2017: Conservative Ben Gummer loses Ipswich seat to Labour’s Sandy Martin
- Credit: Ashley Pickering
Ben Gummer has sensationally lost his seat to the Labour Party after seven years as MP for the town.
The Cabinet Office Minister was defending a majority of 3,733 over Labour but he was beaten by Sandy Martin, leader of the Labour group on Suffolk County Council – a well-known Ipswich figure.
The result came as a major surprise – bookmakers had him Mr Martin as 8/1 outsider and made Mr Gummer 1/16 on favourite to hold the seat.
Mr Martin won the seat with a slight majority of 831 with 24,224 votes compared to Mr Gummer who received 23,393.
The result came at the end of a night of drama at the Corn Exchange which started when the results of the television exit poll were published.
Mr Gummer accepted he had lost the seat by the time he arrived at the count at 2am. He said: “It has been quite intense. At least there will be some time to relax now.”
He had been one of authors of the controversial Conservative election manifesto that included changes to pensions and to social care payments.
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Speaking to our reporter Paul Geater earlier this morning, Mr Gummer said “these things happen in politics”.
Mr Martin said his victory came because more people had turned out to vote in the election – especially those who felt dispossessed and who felt that politics had nothing to do with them.
He accepted he had not expected to win when first selected to fight the seat: “But as I started to talk to local people I got a real sense that they wanted change, and people who had not voted before said they would come out and vote for me.”
He said the campaign had been “kind and courteous, and very civilised” in Ipswich.
One woman he had met at the end of the campaign told him she never voted, but as they talked her seven-year-old child told her she should.
“This has been an election for everyone to take part in,” he said.
Mr Gummer did not say anything to the media as he left the count - but congratulated Mr Martin on his victory after it was announced by the Mayor of Ipswich Sarah Barber.
Mr Gummer is expected to talk to Mr Martin to hand over some of his casework over the next few days.
Speaking to BBC Radio Suffolk this morning, Mr Martin briefly outlined his plans for Ipswich over the coming weeks and months, which included halting funding for the Upper Orwell Crossing to instead help fund a northern bypass.
“I said that the first thing I would do is to contact the Department for Transport and get them to move the £100million to dedicate that to building a northern bypass instead of the vanity bridge over the wet dock,” he told Mark Murphy.
Mr Martin told BBC Suffolk he planned to set up a meeting on Monday over the matter.
Traffic is also high on Mr Martin’s agenda. He added: “There are some junctions that need re-examining.
“There are lots of things that need to be done in Ipswich to get the traffic moving again.”
Mr Martin also said he would be giving up his role at Suffolk County Council in due course in light of the result, stating that it was “entirely inappropriate” for a Member of Parliament to continue as a councillor, or indeed hold a second job.
The results of the exit poll caused concern among Mr Gummer’s supporters late last night.
Stay up-to-date with our live coverage here.