Housing Minister Gavin Barwell has lost his Croydon Central seat to Labour in an astonishing turnaround in fortunes for the 45-year-old, who has only been Minister for Housing, Planning and Minister for London at the Department of Communities and Local Government for a year.
Barwell, like his predecessor Brandon Lewis, was a Minister of State and not, as in previous years, a more junior Under-Secretary of State, reflecting increasing consternation within the government about the state of the housing market.
Appointed in July last year, Gavin Barwell was elected as Conservative MP for Croydon Central in May 2010 and only weeks ago the Queen approved his addition to her Privy Council.
Given the other upheavals and the looming hung parliament and Theresa’s potential exit as leader, the loss of Croydon Central is not a huge surprise. It was one of the UK’s most marginal seats which Gavin Barwell won by just 165 seats in 2010.
Last night he lost it to Labour and both Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa paid visits to his former constituency during the campaign. But such a heavyweight visit by a Prime Minster couldn’t help Barwell, who lost by 5,652 votes to Labour’s Sarah Jones. She now has a 9.9% majority in the constituency on an astonishing 71% turnout, up 3.6% on the 2015’s election.
Bad night for Gavin Barwell
During the night Barwell was tweeted by a constituent, who suggested he could be the next Crystal Palace FC manager if he lost his seat, to which the then MP tweeted back, saying “thanks for bringing a smile to my face on what looks like being a bad night”.
His defeat comes despite Barwell being praised for his grasp of detail, but there were problems during the campaign on the ground; Barwell was accused of distributing leaflets that both supported and opposed the building of new homes in Croydon.
John Healey, Shadow Housing Minister, kept his seat, taking 65% of the vote in his Wentworth & Dearne in Barnsley, up 8.1% on 2015. John Shipley, the Lib Dem’s Shadow Minister for Housing, comes from the House of Lords.
On Wednesday Healey tweeted: “Tomorrow, vote Labour to back our New Deal on housing – a long-term plan to tackle the housing crisis.”
Phillip Hammond, who has made several key announcements during recent budgets including the introduction of the fees ban, kept his seat in what is a hugely safe seat, Runnymede & Weybridge in Surrrey’s commuter belt, with a majority of 18,050.
Kevin Holinrake, the founder of Hunters and Vizzihome and also Conservative MP for Thirsk & Malton in Yorkshire, held his seat with a 19,000 majority.