HARLOW, the bellwether Essex constituency formerly held by defence minister Bill Rammell, last night fell to the Tories with a 5.9 per cent swing.
The Conservatives’ Robert Halfon – who lost out to Rammell by a whisker in 2005 – secured 44.9 per cent of the Harlow vote, well above his rival’s 33.7 per cent.
The seat, the Tories’ number five target, was subject to three recounts back in 2005, with Rammell edging back in with a 97 majority.
Rammell has hopped about the cabinet in recent years, serving by turns as private secretary to culture secretary Tessa Jowell, education minister, and armed forces minister, among others.
Halfon, still at the tender age of just 37, is a former chief of staff to Oliver Letwin, who held his seat yesterday in a crucial election battleground in Dorset West against Lib Dem candidate Sue Farrant.
New British National Party candidate Eddy Butler took 4 per cent of the vote in Harlow.