LONDON (Reuters) – Veteran Labour lawmaker Dennis Skinner lost the seat he had held since 1970 on Friday, as another brick in the “Red Wall” of traditional Labour support fell to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives and their pledge to deliver Brexit.
The 87-year-old, who was the party’s longest continuously serving lawmaker, was defeated by Conservative Mark Fletcher, who overturned his 5,288 majority to win Bolsover with 21,791 votes against Skinner’s 16,492.
Skinner, called the beast of Bolsover, was well known for expressing his republican beliefs by heckling during the Queen’s Speech ceremony, when lawmakers are summoned to hear the government’s legislative agenda pronounced by the monarch.
His quips have included “Tell her to pay her tax” in 1992 and “Has she brought Camilla with her?” in 2005, after Prince Charles’ wedding to his second wife.
Johnson’s Conservatives were set for a resounding victory in an election in which Brexit was seen as the decisive factor.
Large numbers of voters in the Midlands and the north of England who backed Brexit in 2016 switched support from Labour to the Brexit Party and the Conservatives, resulting in Johnson heading for the biggest election victory for his party since 1987.
The seat of Bolsover, in Derbyshire, north England, contains many former mining communities which suffered economically under the Conservative governments under former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.
Skinner’s father was a coal miner, and he was a strong supporter of the miners in the 1984-5 strike, an industrial dispute that defined Thatcher’s battle to reduce the power of trade unions.
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