Updated: Counting of election results well underway in Bury St Edmunds
As the nation digests the shock general election exit poll which points to a hung parliament, counting is well underway for the Bury St Edmunds constituency.
All of the ballot boxes from 88 polling stations have arrived at the town’s leisure centre, in Beeton’s Way, as the candidates await the results.
Conservative candidate Jo Churchill is defending the seat and is hoping to be re-elected after making history in 2015 as the constituency’s first female MP.
Asked how she was feeling tonight, she said: “I get the most enormous sense of privilege. For me this is a job of public service, something you do because you want to try to make a difference.
“I wasn’t complacent 23 months ago and I’m certainly not complacent now.”
She said the country is in ‘interesting times’ with the Brexit negotiations due to start in 11 days and ensuring Bury keeps its place as a ‘jewel in the region is really important’.
The exit poll suggests the Conservatives have lost 17 seats leaving them with 314 and Labour has gained 34 resulting in 266 seats.
Labour Party candidate Bill Edwards, who stood in 2015, said: “We’re feeling happier after the exit poll. It was much better on the doorstep than last time.”
Liberal Democrat candidate Helen Korfanty said: “It’s so exciting and even to see an x next to your name , even if you’re a minority, we’re delighted for any improvement in our last vote. I’m just so impressed by my colleagues.
“It’s very interesting - you certainly felt when we were campaigning that there was a resurgence of Labour and the issues were not just Brexit.”
The Green Party’s Helen Geake, who also stood in 2015, said: “Whatever happens nationally it seems like a lot of people found Labour Party policies attractive both here and nationally and we’re very glad about that because they were our policies first.
“The more we can keep the Conservative majority low, the more likely it is that other MPs will be able to temper some of the worst excesses of a hard Conservative ideology that I’m hoping people have turned away from.”
Independent candidate Liam Byrne said: “I’m excited and it has been a good experience. I will definitely be back doing it again.”
Asked why he stood as an independent, he said: “I couldn’t find myself in any party really. I’m fed up with with the parties’ in-fighting.”
The turnout yesterday was 72 per cent with 62,314 ballots cast out of an electorate of 86,071.
The turnout in 2015 was 69 per cent with 59,578 ballots cast out of an electorate of 85,982.
The result is expected between 3am and 4am and will be announced by the High Sheriff of Suffolk Geoffrey Probert.