CONSERVATIVE Party candidate James Gray last night held on to the North Wiltshire seat he has occupied for the past 23 years.

He was elected the constituency’s MP for the 7th time with 32,373 votes – a majority of 17,626. His majority was cut by just 25 votes from the 2017 result.

Liberal Democrat contender Brian Mathew got 14,747 votes, while his Labour Party rival Jonathan Fisher got 5,699 votes, and Bonnie Jackson for the Green Party got 1,939 votes.

The turn-out in North Wiltshire was 54,974 votes (75.03 per cent). A total of 216 ballot papers were spoiled.

Mr Gray thanked his supporters in North Wiltshire for “renewing” their faith in him and re-electing him as the constituency MP.

Mr Gray pledging to work hard “on the behalf of every political persuasion, for every part of the area and every town. That is my job and I intend to carry on doing it.”

Mr Gray said the Tories had fought a “brilliant” campaign and said he was “naturally delighted” with what had happened nationally.

“If the returns are correct, there is a very substantial majority for the Conservative Party nationally. I think that is a very good thing because we now need to take our agenda forward and deliver on Brexit.

“Beyond that, we have to do so much else in this country. Basically, it has been on hold for two or three years while Parliament had been in gridlock.

“I am glad that I am serving in a Conservative majority government and I pledge to the people of North Wiltshire that I will do all I can in my power to make sure that I work for them.”

Mr Gray said he had toured polling stations and had been “very impressed” with the way democracy works in the UK. “Democracy in Britain is alive and well and we have demonstrated it here in Wiltshire.”

Brian Mathew, the Liberal Democrat candidate, said: “The Liberal Democrats set out an ambitious, credible and clear plan to stop Brexit and builder a brighter future for our country.

“We’re proud of that campaign. I salute everyone who rallied to our side. We will always stand firm in our belief that the UK’s future is better if we remain in the European Union. We will continue to fight to stop Brexit in Parliament.

“We fought a positive campaign setting out an ambitious plan for the future of our country where every person, every community and our planet can thrive and be free from the climate emergency.”

He added: “Labour have gone backwards here and across our country. They seem to be on course for the worst election defeat in modern times.

“The Liberal Democrats have moved forward and remain the only clear credible challenge to the Conservatives in this county.”

Jonathan Fisher, for Labour, said: “I would like to thank the other candidates. This has been a very civil election in North Wiltshire for the past five weeks and I think that’s to all of our credit, it’s to our campaign’s credit and it’s to all of you as well.

“I feel that we have fought a really good campaign in North Wiltshire. We have talked to so many people and we have engaged with so many people. It has been really passionate and we have put a message of real change out there and that has resonated on the streets.

“Nationally, it is not going the way that we wanted it to do today for Labour but across the last five weeks in North Wiltshire I actually think we made some great inroads and we will be back to fight again.

“I can assure you that we will renew and refresh Labour and we will hold James Gray to account in the next five years.”

Bonnie Jackson, of the Green Party, said: “Thank you to everyone in North Wiltshire who voted Green. I hope you will join us in reminding this new Government that we are in a climate emergency and we will continue to be the voice of the environment in Westminster.”

Earlier in the evening, there was a short delay while the Returning Officer waited for the last ballot box to come in from Sopworth, in north west Wiltshire, where the presiding officer fell and had to be taken to hospital.

The police couriered the box to the Chippenham Olympiad Leisure Centre to be counted.

In the 2017 General Election, Mr Gray won the seat with 32,398 votes (60.32 per cent), from Brian Mathew with 9,521 votes (17.73 per cent), and Peter Baldrey for the Labour Party in third place with 9,399 votes (17.50 per cent).

In this year’s General Election, there were 20 candidates in the five Wiltshire constituencies – Chippenham, Devizes, North Wiltshire, South West Wiltshire and Salisbury.

Those registered to vote did so at 357 polling stations across the county. There were 60,027 people eligible for postal votes, 2,828 for proxy votes, and 307,430 registered to use the polling stations.

A total of 25,366 people became newly-registered electors since the General Election was formally called.