General election: The Borders turns blue

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The Conservative Party might be struggling in the war politically as it faces a hung Parliament, but it certainly won the battle of the Borders.

As widely expected, both John Lamont and Rachael Hamilton won their respective seats – the former in Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk for Westminster and the latter in Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, the Holyrood seat left vacant by Mr Lamont. However, their massive margins of victory did perhaps come as a surprise.

While UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s “strong and stable” leadership now looks decidedly frail and fragile, if the Conservatives are able to form a government, Mr Lamont must now find himself a place in that establishment.

After taking the Westminster seat at the third time of asking with an 11,000-plus majority, he told us: “My team has worked so hard and they have put their trust in me, and I promise to work as hard as I can to get the best deal for the Borders.

“The results are still unfolding nationwide, and there are big regional variations in Scotland, but there have been some sensational results, with big scalps off the SNP, and it’s clearly going to change the landscape of Scottish politics.”

The Scottish National Party’s Calum Kerr left his Westminster role in the same way as he started it, with a smile.

He told us: “I’m disappointed, of course. It’s been a real honour and a privilege to serve the area that I was born in and that I have chosen to bring my own family up in, where I call home, especially here in Kelso where my mum and dad and extended family are from.

“I’m very proud of the last couple of years, and I’m proud of how we did in the election – to get 17,000 votes and 32% is still something I am very proud of.

“It is difficult when you are disappointed to lose to keep perspective, but we were fourth repeatedly, on about eight to 9% for years, and this is a huge leap forward in the Borders, and it shows there is a real appetitite here for the kind of support and belief system that we have.”

Mrs Hamilton extended the Tories’ majority in the by-election seat, having left her role as a list MSP for the south of Scotland to stand.

She said: “I have big shoes to fill, following John Lamont into this role, and I promise John that I won’t let him down, and I won’t let this constituency down.

“I work hard, and I look forward to rolling up my sleeves to do my best for the Borders.”

While Labour made a small gain, with its candidate Ian Davidson declaring they it is going to get their refund back from Scottish Borders Council this time, it was another very bad day for the Liberal Democrats, with most of their voters opting to go with the Tories, which led to the big majority secured by the evening’s victors.

Indeed, the Lib Dems finished fourth and last in each seat.

Further north and west, Scottish Secretary David Mundell increased his hold on the Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale constituency, beating Mairi McAllan by a large margin.

The results were as follows:

General Election: Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk constituency

Burgess, Caroline Eleanor (Lib Dem) 2482

Davidson, Ian Graham (Labour) 4519

Kerr, Calum (SNP) 17,153

Lamont, John (CON) 28,213

CON GAIN: majority 11,060

Total turnout: 73,191 (71.7%) (2015 - 74%)

Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale constituency

Mundell, David (Con) 24,177

McAllan, Mairi (SNP) 14,736

Beattie, Douglas (Lab) 8,102

Ferry, John (Lib Dem) 1,949

CON HOLD

Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire by-election

Bhatia, Catriona (Lib Dem) 3,196

Hamilton, Rachael (Con) 20,658

Hendry, Gail (SNP) 11,320

Prentice, Sally (Lab) 3,406

CON HOLD: Majority 9338.

Turnout 55,395 (69.8%) (2016 - 61%)