GENERAL ELECTION: Counting not yet underway at Norfolk South West
Voting is over, counting has yet to begin and there is nothing more anyone can do but wait.
This year’s election is said to be one of the hardest to predict in decades, so it will be an anxious wait for Norfolk’s five south west parliamentary candidates, whose result - at Lynnsport in King’s Lynn - is not expected to be declared until at least 6am.
Environment secretary Liz Truss is hoping to retain her seat for the Tories, but Labour’s Peter Smith, who has campaigned in every General Election since 1970, said he ‘wouldn’t be surprised’ if he won.
“I think anything could happen,” he said. “It’s likely the Tories will win but who knows. Basically, as a realist, I don’t expect to win but I wouldn’t be surprised if I did.”
“If we can’t win here, what I’d like is to make it a marginal,” he added. “It’ll get exciting if we’re looking at the piles and it actually gets quite close.”
This is the second time Mr Smith has contested the seat and, he says, he will not stand again if he does not take it today.
“I won’t stand again here having stood twice,” he said. “If I can’t win maybe it’s time for somebody else to have a go.”
“It’s difficult because it’s been a staunch Tory seat,” agreed Sandra Walmsley, who is standing for the Green Party.
She said she had been ‘really encouraged’ by the number of people engaging with her party, and by the number of Labour defectors.
“Frankly, we’re the only radical party left, well, on the left. So, I think, with the lack of other radical parties it’s quite important we’re out there and I think it’s really fantastic we’ve managed to pull in so many candidates this time.”
“I’ve enjoyed it,” she added.
UKIP candidate Paul Smyth said he had been encouraged by the ‘constant flow’ of people at polling stations yesterday.
“We know we’ll get more votes than we’ve had before but whether that’s enough to put us in first place we don’t know,” he said.
Returning Officer Nicholas Pratt, the High Sheriff of Norfolk, will be declaring today’s result after having accepted an invitation from Ray Harding, the chief executive of West Norfolk Borough Council.
“I’m very, very delighted to be here, to be part of it. It’s a great honour to be invited to declare not one, but two, results, and I consider it a real highlight of my year to be involved in the count today,” he said.
Dressed in his court uniform - consisting of frock coat, cuffs, while gloves, jabot, rosette, waistcoat, velvet breeches, tights, buckled shoes and ceremonial sword - he joked that he ‘is probably the only man in the building who is armed’.