The most dramatic moment of the night in Dover came at around 2.30am when Gwyn Prosser, Labour MP for the last 13 years, walked into the town hall and, with a crushed look on his face, admitted: “The seat is lost.”
It was the first time he publicly threw in the towel, or as one Tory activist celebrating at an early-morning victory party so emphatically put it: “He didn’t just throw in the towel, he set it on fire and stamped on it.”
When the result was officially announced shortly after 3am the scale of Mr Prosser’s defeat became clear. His Conservative rival Charlie Elphicke had polled 22,174 votes, securing a decisive majority of 5,274.
Mr Elphicke, who has been campaigning in the constituency since 2007, looked shocked after his win, almost unable to comprehend the fact he had finally won the race to Westminster. Only when a member of the returning officer’s staff handed him an envelope bearing the insignia of the House of Commons and containing documentation for new parliamentarians did it begin to seem real.
Just moments after the result was declared, Mr Elphicke told me he felt an incredible weight of responsibility upon his shoulders.
The people of Dover and Deal will now look on with interest to see if the man they have chosen to represent them can live up to his campaign promises on the Port of Dover, on improved healthcare provision in the town and on MPs’ expenses. After almost three years of battling to win the seat, the real work starts now.
For full election coverage and reaction see next week’s Dover Express.