My message of thanks to Don Valley's voters, and my apology that my party has not lived up their expectations.
Read my concession speech after the result of the General Election in Don Valley, 13 December 2019.
May I thank the returning officer, council staff and police for the way this election has been conducted; congratulate Nick Fletcher on his victory and thank all of the other candidates for their conduct during the election.
I thank my agent, Kirsty Lenham, my family, my Parliamentary staff and most of all my Don Valley team of volunteers, many of whom have been with me every step of this 22 year journey.
And to the many people who sent me warm wishes during this campaign. They are appreciated.
I depart knowing I did my best for Don Valley’s towns and villages and with my integrity intact, as an MP who kept my promises to my voters on Brexit.
Win or lose, I would not have changed that.
Tonight is a sad night.
But shed no tears on my behalf.
Defeat is, in some respects, a blessed relief.
A respite from a miserable period in politics.
But do spare a thought for those many people who invested their hopes in having a Labour Party that would lead our country, help them with their plight, make life just a little easier and safeguard those aspects of life they hold most dear.
To those people, I offer my apologies.
For my party did not live up to your expectations.
Last week, I met a man who apologised that he had not voted for me. It wasn’t personal. He had always liked me. He thought I would win anyway, but he could not bring himself to vote Labour.
I simply gave him a hug; and said I hoped we would earn his trust in the future.
To those voters who could not bring themselves to vote Labour – for reasons every candidate knows – I say sorry.
Sorry that our party did not offer you the Labour Party you felt you could trust.
And to those influential Labour figures living in North London postcodes who have brought us to this point, I remind them that Labour cannot simply be a party of big cities and university towns.
Nor just a party of the young.
Or a party of devoted Remainers.
We must be a party of labour.
A party close to working class people. Because what is the point of the Labour Party if we don’t respect and represent their voices?
People we have not listened to or respected enough.
It is self-evident in Doncaster and across the country that many longstanding Labour voters rejected our candidate for Prime Minister and the politics that surrounds him.
I have been a Labour Party member for over 40 years.
I owe so much to this party.
But owe as much to the people of Don Valley who have shown me nothing but kindness since the day I became their MP.
For the honour of serving you for 22 years I thank you from the bottom of my heart.