THE Liberal Democrats overturned a majority of more than 19,000 to win the Somerton and Frome by-election.

The party’s leader Sir Ed Davey has said the party is now back in its former West Country stronghold.

Until the 2015 electoral disaster following the coalition years, the south west had been a heartland for the LibDems and Davey said the result – which saw a 29% swing from the Tories – showed they could be a force there again.

The LibDems lost the Somerset seat in 2015 but Sarah Dyke won it back with a majority of 11,008 in the contest triggered by David Warburton’s resignation after he admitted cocaine use.

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Dyke said she was “excited, exhilarated and most of all humbled” at the result.
She told reporters: “It’s unbelievable and most of all I am delighted that Somerton and

Frome have finally got a voice in the constituency, but also in Parliament, and I can’t wait to get started.

“I think the result here shows a very clear message now that the Liberal Democrats are back in the West Country.

“Not only do we have the largest group of Liberal Democrat councillors on Somerset Council, we now have an MP in Somerset.

“We have a great legacy of Liberal Democrats MPs in Somerset. David Heath represented this constituency from 1997 to 2015 and the great, late Paddy Ashdown who was a hero to so many.”

As soon as the result was declared, defeated Tory candidate Faye Purbrick left via a side entrance and got into a waiting car.

Reporters fired questions at her as she left the Bath and West of England Society showground.

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Asked about the huge change in vote, she replied: “That would be something you would have to ask the voters.”

She added: “Thank you to everybody who voted for me – I really appreciate their support and I will be back.”