In 2016, it was Sunderland that signalled what was to come. The North-Eastern town voted for Brexit by a margin of 61 to 39 per cent. That announcement was seen as a turning point on the night of the EU referendum – if a town as reliant on foreign manufacturing (namely the Nissan plant) could vote so decisively for Brexit then surely the rest of the country could well follow suit. The pound duly dropped three per cent in the minutes after the result, those cheering Leave supporters seared into the memories of those who stayed up to watch the count.
This time around, will Blyth Valley become that symbolic vote? Another heavy Leave-voting constituency in the North East that has been Labour since its creation in 1950. After the shock of last night’s exit poll, Blyth Valley was the first constituency to conform to the new reality that voters and pundits were waking up to.
Images of the Conservative candidate Ian Levy dominated the early hours of the election coverage. This former mining community will now be represented in the Commons by a Tory NHS worker. What greater symbol could there be of this new era of Conservatism?