Mundell hails Tory revival in Scotland

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THE three Westminster constituencies in southern Scotland are all now represented by Conservative MPs after last Thursday's general election.

David Mundell, re-elected as MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, gives his thanks after the count
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David Mundell, re-elected as MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, gives his thanks after the count

It is the first time in 52 years there have been three Conservative MPs in southern Scotland.

After polling fewer than 1,000 votes more than his rival in 2015, David Mundell, Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, gained nearly 10,000 votes more than the SNP's Mairi McAllan.

Mr Mundell polled 24,177, Ms McAllan 14,736, Labour's Douglas Beattie 8,102 and Lib Dem John Ferry 1,949.

The total number of votes cast was 49,024, representing a 72.4 per cent turnout.

Mr Mundell, formerly Scotland's sole Tory MP and Scottish Secretary, is joined by 12 others from his party, including John Lamont, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, and Alister Jack in Dumfries and Galloway.

Mr Mundell, who has been reappointed Scottish Secretary, said: "I'm delighted to have been re-elected and humbled that it is once again with an increased vote and vote share. I am particularly grateful to the people of Langholm and Eskdale who gave me such overwhelming backing.

"I pledge to continue to work hard to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for Langholm. I will also continue to be accessible and my summer surgery tour of communities will be in July.

"There is no doubt the dominant issue in this election was Nicola Sturgeon's threat of another divisive independence referendum. People wanted to send a clear message that they didn't want another referendum and they did.

"I believe the comprehensive defeat the SNP experienced in this constituency and elsewhere in Scotland means the prospect of such a referendum is off the table for the foreseeable future and, hopefully, for at least the generation the SNP promised in 2014.

"Independence would be disastrous for this area and, rather than putting up barriers with our friends in northern England, we should work together.

"I'll be putting a big effort into making sure the Borderlands Growth Deal, set out in the Conservative manifesto, comes to fruition and is a real game changer for the economy.

"Obviously, my other priority is to ensure we get the best possible deal, particularly for our farmers and businesses.

"It will be very different for me as I return to Westminster, not only because there will be a minority government but also I will have 12 Scottish Conservative MP colleagues. I've waited 12 years for a colleague and now 12 have come along all at once."

He added: "The Conservatives remain the largest party in parliament but we know it was not good enough because Labour increased their vote in England.

"We'll have a minority government but that's the democratic choice people have made and it's up to us in the party to work with that."

The Prime Minister has chosen to work with the DUP but many people have voiced their concerns over working with a party which has anti-abortion and homophobic policies.

Mr Mundell, who is gay, said: "We'll look to work with the DUP to ensure there is no instability. It's not a coalition. The DUP will not have any veto on government proposals and no say in relation to social issues. I'm very clear and Ruth Davidson is very clear on that.

"The way forward in Northern Ireland is one of persuasion in relation to changing these policies. The DUP are democratically elected and the party with the largest number of seats Northern Ireland."

Mr Mundell compared this minority government with the SNP minority government. Both had majorities in the previous parliaments.

"We have to accept the verdict of the people. People have voted for the Conservatives to remain in power but, for whatever reason, they didn't want them to have a big majority.

"The outcome is below expectations; it's disappointing but it's what the people have delivered. We're still the largest party."

Mr Mundell gave Mrs May his full support, despite calls by others for her to resign, and, through the arrangement with the DUP, there would be a stable government during this very important period.

"What I really hope is we're able to take forward and make something substantial from the prospect of the Borderlands Initiative which recognises Carlisle is a very important economic centre for us.

"I think there is a real opportunity to develop an economic strategy on a cross-border basis in terms of infrastructure, people and skills.

"I believe the result was partly down to the fact people feel the SNP have let down this area and are not interested in this area. Nicola Sturgeon is very out of touch with people's views here."

On Brexit he said that a very important part for this area was what would happen to agriculture. The party's manifesto committed to maintain current farm support for five years while a new system was devised.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 at 10:44AM
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