UKIP vote from 2016 'significant' to Tory win in Havering and Redbridge
- Credit: Michael Cox
Keith Prince has spoken of his delight at being re-elected to the London Assembly for Havering and Redbridge - and agreed with his Labour counterpart that the UKIP vote from 2016 had been vital.
The Conservative politician received 77,268 votes, more than 15,000 ahead of Labour's Judith Garfield, who came second.
Mr Prince's majority represented a marked increase on the 2016 election, when he defeated then-Labour candidate Ivana Bartoletti by around 1,400 votes.
He said this year's victory was testament to the government's handling of the Covid-19 crisis and the efforts of his campaign team.
"I'm over the moon. I'd like to think it's a reflection on the trust that has been put in me by my residents.
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"I do work night and day doing the job and hopefully that's partly reflected in that result."
In the 2016 vote, UKIP's Lawrence Webb came third with more than 26,000 votes, but the party did not field a candidate this time.
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The redistribution of these votes played a key part in the result, according to both Mr Prince and Ms Garfield.
Reacting to the result, she said: "We're disappointed but I know that we worked incredibly hard. We spoke to thousands of people on the door and, particularly in Redbridge, they did want to see change.
"I think it was very much that the UKIP vote went to the Conservative Party in Havering."
Mr Prince agreed: "The collapse of UKIP was a significant contributor, without a shadow of a doubt."
Asked whether he had targeted those voters, he added: "Of course, because we know they were more natural supporters of us."
On election night, the former Redbridge Council leader said he would continue to "beat the drum" for Redbridge Roundabout and Gallows Corner, as well as standing up for black cab drivers.
Melanie Collins came third for the Green Party with 13,685 votes, with Thomas Clarke (Liberal Democrats) fourth on 8,150.
Reform UK party leader Richard Tice polled 5,143 votes and Andy Walker, of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, received 1,856 votes.
The turnout was 42 per cent.
In the mayoral race, which was won by Labour's Sadiq Khan, Havering and Redbridge constituents gave the most first-preference votes to Tory candidate Shaun Bailey (82,361).
Mr Khan came second with 49,818.
The Londonwide Assembly Member vote in Havering and Redbridge saw the Conservatives poll the highest with 73,657, followed by Labour (55,903) and the Greens (12,002).