Boris Johnson won over ‘Workington man’ today as he marches his new blue-collar Tory army towards a staggering election landslide.
With Labour’s ‘red wall’ of Brexit-backing strongholds imploding, the Conservatives pulled off a massive coup by securing the symbolic swing seat, overturning a 3,000 majority to triumph by 4,000 votes with a 10 per cent swing.
The dramatic score came after a dramatic exit poll showed the Tories are on track to rack up 368 seats in the first December election for nearly a century, with Labour collapsing to 191 – down 71 on 2017.
The bombshell numbers would give Mr Johnson a huge Commons majority of 86, the biggest since Margaret Thatcher’s third victory in 1987, and more than enough to fulfill his vow to ‘get Brexit done’.
Early results bore out the extraordinary exit poll findings, with the Tories overturning an 8,000 majority to rip the former mining area of Blythe Valley in Northumberland from Labour’s grip for the first time ever. The party’s candidate won by 700 votes after securing an incredible 10.2 per cent swing in what was theoretically only 85th on the target list.
There were also jaw-dropping gains in Bishop Auckland – which had never elected a Conservative MP in 134 years – Leigh, Darlington, Stockton South, Redcar – which saw a 15.5 per cent swing – Peterborough, Wrexham and the Vale of Clywd.
As the political map was redrawn in a few tumultuous hours, places like Jarrow, Houghton & Sunderland South, Sunderland Central, and Newcastle Upon-Tyne Central saw enormous movements from Labour to the Conservatives – although the party clung on.
A pattern was emerging of Brexit Party candidates draining votes from Labour in its northern heartlands, while Tory support held steady.
Margaret Thatcher pictured after her first election victory
If confirmed, the exit poll numbers wold represent a majority of 86 for the Tories.
That would be the biggest since Margaret Thatcher’s landslide of 1987 – which was also driven by blue-collar Tory voters.
By contrast Labour’s 191 would be its worst since the 1930s – leaving his dream of a socialist Britain in ruins.
It would outdo even the showing by Mr Corbyn’s left-win hero Michael Foot, who was famously put to the sword by Margaret Thatcher with just 209 seat in 1983.
In a few crumbs of comfort for Remainers, Putney was taken from the Conservatives by Labour thanks to tactical voting by Lib Dem supporters. And the party’s Rosie Duffield kept hold of Canterbury – one of its marquee captures from the 2017 poll.
However, a cross-party bid to eject Tory ex-leader Iain Duncan Smith in Chingford and Wood Green failed.
The exit poll sparked scenes of jubilation in CCHQ, with staff singing and dancing following a month of brutal political struggle as Mr Corbyn tried desperately to sell his hard-Left agenda to the UK public.
The SNP are predicted to get 55 MPs – approaching a clean sweep in Scotland – and the Lib Dems have effectively stalled on 13 after a dismal all-out Remain campaign by leader Jo Swinson – who might now lose her own East Dunbartonshire seat.
Without explicitly claiming victory this evening, Mr Johnson tweeted a ‘thank you’ to ‘everyone across our great country who voted, who volunteered, who stood as candidates’.
Posting a picture of himself with workers carrying a ‘we love Boris’ sign, he said: ‘We live in the greatest democracy in the world.’
But for Mr Corbyn his dream of a socialist Britain is now in ruins, with his time in charge of the party surely coming crashing to an end.
If confirmed, it would be worse than the showing by his hero Michael Foot, who was famously put to the sword by Thatcher with just 209 seat in 1983.
Left-wing stalwarts including the ‘Beast of Bolsover’ Dennis Skinner are set to be humiliatingly ejected as Mr Johnson flips huge swathes of the country from deep red to Tory blue.
In an amazing piece of understatement, an ashen-faced shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the exit poll was ‘disappointing’ and blamed it on Brexit. ‘I thought it would be closer,’ he said.
‘The poll itself, I think it looks as though it’s Brexit dominated, a lot of this I think was Brexit fatigue, people just wanted it over and done with and it put Labour in a very difficult position.’
Speaking to BBC News, Mr McDonnell said: ‘We thought other issues could cut through and there would be a wider debate, from this evidence there clearly wasn’t.’
On the future of Mr Corbyn’s leadership, Mr McDonnell said: ‘Let’s see the results themselves, as I say, the appropriate decisions will be made and we’ll always make the decisions in the best interests of our party.’
But Labour moderates were jubilant, with one source who had expected a narrow result telling MailOnline: ‘Never been so pleased to be wrong.’ Former Labour MPs said the ‘Great Leader’ should immediately resign along with his hard-Left clique.
Dame Margaret Hodge, who repeatedly condemned Mr Corbyn over the anti-Semitism that has been rampant in Labour since he took charge, said: ‘This is the utter failure of Corbyn & Corbynism. There is no other way of looking at it.’
Amid reports of ‘mega’ turnout and unprecedented levels of tactical voting by Remainers, Tories had become nervous that victory could somehow slip from their grasp, despite a slew of polls during the campaign having given them a double-digit advantage.
But the fears seem to be unfounded, as the party’s mantra of ‘get Brexit done’ swung previously rock-solid Labour supporters.
The pound immediately jumped 3 per cent against the US dollar on the news, as markets breathed a sigh of relief at the prospect of clarity on Brexit and no anti-business Labour government.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the government would move quickly to ‘get Brexit done’ before Christmas by introducing legislation in Parliament if it is returned to power.