Yesterday, along with many other MPs and Cabinet Ministers I made my fourth visit to Newark to support Robert Jenrick, our Conservative candidate for the by-election.
In the early hours of this morning we got the result we were fighting for! Robert will now join us in Parliament to work hard for his Newark constituents and we look forward to seeing him next week.
This was a significant by-election for the Conservatives, coming so soon after the European and local council elections. During the by-election campaign, I was looking forward to meeting grassroots activists, friends and colleagues but what I didn't expect last weekend was to see more than 500 young Conservative supporters as well! These young people had travelled from across the UK to help. They brought energy and purpose to our work and gave the day an electric street-party atmosphere.
Jonathan Djanogly MP did the driving - thank you - and I spent my time delivering leaflets, door-knocking and speaking with voters. It was great to work with Dr Luke Evans and bump into Kulveer Ranger (former Director for Boris Johnson), Matthew Plummer (photographer & Conservative candidate) and so many others.
Above all it was reassuring to hear that so many people understood the difficulties we face being in Coalition that make it hard to push through all of our strong Conservative policies. They understood that we have started to turn around the economy, generate jobs though business and enterprise and, much to my relief, laid the foundations for an economic recovery that will last - one that Ed Miliband and Ed Balls would destroy if they were in power.
I also spoke with many people with small-c conservative values on the doorsteps who, dare I say it, were thinking of voting for others. It was great to have the chance to explain what we could achieve with a majority at the next General Election and that we were totally committed to an in-out referendum on Europe and tackling uncontrolled immigration.
Today, I'm incredibly proud of the activists and supporters who gave their time to canvass in Newark and secure this victory for the Conservative Party. My particular thanks goes to Mark Clarke. We all owe him a great debt of gratitude for bringing hundreds of young Conservatives to help. I'm proud of all our stalwart Conservative activists and CCHQ helpers, not just for their passion and commitment, but also for returning my mobile phone that I foolishly left behind in Newark! Via a chain of people including Jonathan Djanogly, Greg Hands, Richard Ashworth, Marion Little, Richard Jackson and Mr Berry at CCHQ, it arrived safely with me the following day. Now that's teamwork!
This Conservative victory in Newark is a step towards winning in 2015. It marks a turning point. It reaffirms that the conservative family can stand together and pull together. I'm now energised, optimistic, and along with my colleagues, ready to fight for a majority in 2015.