HISTORY was made spectacularly in Surrey Heath when voters elected the area’s first non-Conservative MP in 118 years.

Liberal Democrat Al Pinkerton won the seat that was previously occupied by Michael Gove for nearly two decades at his second attempt.

In 2019, Mr Gove’s share of the poll was reduced by 2,760, from 64.2% to 58.6%, but he still gained more than double the votes achieved by Mr Pinkerton.

On 4 July, the Lib Dem beat the Tory hoping to replace Mr Gove, Ed McGuinness, by 5,640 votes – 44.6% of the vote versus 32.9%.

Mr Pinkerton’s total was 21,387, against Mr McGuinness’s 15,747. Reform UK candidate Sam Goggin came third with 6,252, Labour’s Jessica Hammersley-Rich was fourth on 3,148, Green Jon Campbell fifth on 1,162, and The Heritage Party’s Elizabeth de Stanford Wallitt sixth on just 92.

The new MP, a geopolitics lecturer at Royal Holloway College, Egham, said of his achievement: “This sort of thing shouldn’t happen in Surrey Heath. I suspect a lot of people have loaned their votes to me, but they have clearly voted for a fresh start and change.

“It’s a vote to put Surrey Heath back on the map, to have a genuinely local MP to take up local causes and work incredibly hard on behalf of local people. I live here and know the problems that people face, from the difficulty in getting a GP appointment to poor rail services.”

Only four of the six Surrey Heath candidates were at the count in Camberley Theatre, the Green and Heritage representatives failing to attend.

Mr McGuinness, Mrs Goggin and Ms Hammersley-Rich left soon after the declaration, leaving Mr Pinkerton as the only candidate to attend the following press conference.

Mrs Goggin, the Year 11 manager at Collingwood College in Camberley, said earlier she expected the year of hard work and preparation put in before the election by Reform UK activists to result in her beating Labour into fourth place.

She was buoyed when her party leader, Nigel Farage, was elected in Clacton, saying that Reform will build its support in the constituency and borough. “We will do better and increase our votes at the next election,” she added.

Mr McGuinness, a former Army officer who served in Afghanistan and now works for the JP Morgan financial conglomerate, was criticised by opponents and on social media when he said he had become a Camberley resident. He explained he had rented a house while he was looking to buy, but his nomination paper lists an address in Putney.

The last non-Tory to represent the area now covered by Surrey Heath constituency was Liberal Francis Marnham, in 1906. He won the then Chertsey constituency, beating Conservative the Hon. George Bingham by 99 votes. The constituency included a huge area from Frimley to Weybridge.

But Mr Marnham was defeated by the Conservatives in the 1910 general election. Since then, Tories have won every election in the succeeding North West Surrey and Surrey Heath constituencies – until July 2024.