As the Labour landslide saw Tories losing their seats all over the country, the Conservative candidate managed to win in the newly-created Exmouth & Exeter East constituency.

But it was a close thing. As the count progressed into the early hours of Friday morning, it became clear that Labour and the Conservatives were neck and neck. In the end there was a recount.

When the declaration was finally made, soon before 7am, it emerged that the Conservative candidate David Reed had nosed ahead, winning 14,728 votes, with Helen Dallimore for Labour achieving 14,607. Paul Arnott, representing the Liberal Democrats, came third with 11,387 votes. As with many other seats, the Reform party had made inroads into the Tory vote, with local candidate Garry Sutherland winning 7,095. Olly Davey pulled in 2,331 votes for the Green Party, Independents Daniel Wilson and Peter Faithfull achieved 590 and 454 respectively, and Mark Baldwin attracted 134 votes for the Climate Party.

In his victory speech Mr Reed said: “The weight of responsibility already weighs very heavily on my shoulders and I make a commitment to you that I will do my best not to let you down.”

He went on to thank his campaign team, his wife and family, and the other candidates in his constituency: “We’ve had a tough six weeks, and the fact that the vote was so close today shows how hard we’ve all fought. We’ve fought fairly and we can all leave today with our integrity intact.

“For the last 12 months my main aim has been to go out and speak to as many people as possible. I understand that trust in politics is damaged at the moment and I wanted to go out and hear what local people think so that I can work on their priorities, whether that’s improving social care, ending our sewage situation, pushing back on overdevelopment that doesn’t come with corresponding infrastructure, rolling out new apprenticeship schemes, or cutting anti-social behaviour with more visible policing, I’ve listened and I’m ready to get on with the job. The time for talking is over and the time for doing has started.”

He later acknowledged that the national election results had shown the enormous public dissatisfaction with the Conservative party, and said: “I think they’re going to have to rethink where they go.

“I see my role now post-election of helping to rebuild the Conservative party and making it into a really electable position again.”

Elsewhere in East Devon, the former Conservative MP for the area, Simon Jupp, lost to Liberal Democrat Richard Foord in the newly-created Honiton & Sidmouth constituency.