After his shock defeat on Thursday night, former Bermondsey MP, Simon Hughes, has told his local supporters to ‘stay strong’.
Speaking to the News, Mr Hughes addressed his voters in the north of the borough for first time.
He said: “I would like to thank very sincerely all the people in Bermondsey and Rotherhithe, the Borough and the Elephant and Walworth, Waterloo and Kennington who supported me in this election.
“Even more I thank from the bottom of my heart all those tens of thousands of people who have made my 32 years as your local MP so special.
“Nothing I have ever done has been a greater honour or privilege.
“And thank you also to the many, many people who have contacted me to pass on their best wishes. To my friends and supporters I say ‘stay strong’. Liberalism locally will stay strong too. We will be needed in the future as much as ever.”
In a total wipe-out of Liberal Democrat MPs across the country, the long-serving minister lost to Labour candidate Neil Coyle on Thursday night by more than 4,000 votes.
Speaking to the BBC yesterday, Mr Hughes said despite this defeat, his “fight has not ended.”
“I’ve had the huge privilege of being the MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark for 32 years and we have taken a battering,” he said.
“We had a bruising last night but that doesn’t mean to say that’s the end of a career. Liberalism is as needed as ever.
“The Tory government is not in my view what Bermondsey needs. We need a fairer society and the Tories never delivered that,” he added.
Asked if he would stand again for a seat in parliament, Mr Hughes said it was “too early to answer that question after two hours sleep,” but went on to say, “the fight goes on.”
“The fight in Simon Hughes has not ended. Yes, I lost the bout yesterday but I’ve had the privilege of winning the last eight bouts so there’s plenty more life in the old dog yet,” he said.
The north Southwark constituency was thrown into the national media spotlight as pundits had said it was ‘too close to call’.
But the total obliteration of the Lib Dems, including other senior ministers like Vince Cable, was dramatically clear cut in the end.
With Labour’s Mr Coyle on 22,146 votes, Mr Hughes’s 17,657 votes were nowhere near enough to keep him safe.
Speaking to the News directly after the result came in, a victorious Neil Coyle said he felt “amazing.”
“What a privilege, what an honour,” he said. “This is my home. This is where Sarah and I want to have our family, to be the MP to be serving is a privilege, it’s an honour. I can’t wait to get stuck in.”
Mr Coyle, 36 was gracious in his victory speech, saying: “I would like you to acknowledge the three decades of contribution that Simon Hughes has made to people’s lives in this community through case work.
“We know that the verdict of the people of Bermondsey and Southwark is not a verdict on Simon Hughes – it was a verdict on five years of Cameron and Clegg’s coalition,” he added.