BUSINESSMAN Bayo Alaba delivered the first blow to the Tories, winning Southend East and Rochford for Labour by a comfortable margin.

The former Parachute Regiment member was the first winner to be announced at the Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre, gaining 15,395 votes against Conservative candidate Gavin Haran’s 11,368 votes.

Turnout for the constituency was 56.68 per cent, below the 2019 turnout of 61.25 per cent.

Mr Alaba, who is currently a councillor for the London Borough of Redbridge, said: “My biggest thanks tonight is for every person across Southend East and Rochford who put their trust in me. Tonight we made history and tomorrow our work begins.

“For those who didn’t choose to vote for me in this election be assured I will be a representative for every single one of you in the constituency by serving you as a member of Parliament. This will be the greatest thing of my life. I will work every day to repay the trust you put in me.”

Mr Alaba added: “This country is crying out for change. Tonight the British People have given us a mandate to change this country just as Keir changed our party. This is a vote for a Labour Party that is focused on the primary needs of working people.

“The people of Southend East and Rochford have put their trust in our changed Labour Party. Now is the time to get on with delivering.”

Leslie Lilley who was deselected from the Reform Party days ahead of the election, picked up 7,214 votes to be placed third.

The Lib Dems James Allen trailed behind with 2,269 votes behind the Green Party’s 2,716 votes.

Mr Allen said campaigning had been tough for Lib Dems. He said: "It was difficult to get people to answer the doors. It's been difficult to get people to interact and I think there's a "pox on all your houses" attitude. Nationally if the polls are anything to go by we've got about 50 extra seats.”