The Conservatives have secured an unexpected general election victory, holding almost all of their seats in Sussex and taking several from their former coalition partners this morning.
Before last night’s exit polls predicted disastrous losses for both the Labour Party and Lib Dems, opinion polls over the previous week had shown the two main parties neck and neck.
But early this morning it became clear that Labour would not make the gains needed in Sussex to give them victory.
The Tories held on to Labour target seats Crawley and Hastings and Rye with increased majorities, before the Conservatives took Eastbourne from the Lib Dems.
After his defeat the outgoing Liberal Democrat Stephen Lloyd announced his retirement from politics, while Caroline Ansell described being delighted by her victory.
Wealden was the next Tory seat to be held, before Lewes became the last seat not held by the Tories in Sussex, outside of Brighton and Hove, to fall, with long-serving Lib Dem Norman Baker losing his seat to Conservative Maria Caulfield.
A flurry of Conservative holds followed in Chichester, Worthing West, Bexhill and Battle, Horsham, Bognor and Littlehampton, Mid Sussex, East Worthing and Shoreham, and Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven.
This left just two seats in Sussex not controlled by the Tories. Hove was taken by Labour from the Conservatives, while Brighton Pavilion was held by the Greens.
Both Mr Baker and Mr Lloyd will join a number of Lib Dems who have lost their seats including high profile casualties Vince Cable, Danny Alexander, and Ed Davey, while the party’s share of the vote evaporated in many parts of the county. In Crawley it was cut to a fifth of its 2010 level, and other constituencies saw Lib Dem candidates plummet down the order of results.
Although UKIP increased their vote share and came second in a number of counts, they did not run the Tories particularly close in any areas, with their candidates a distant second in places such as Chichester, Bexhill and Battle, Horsham, and Worthing West.
Focus now turns to the last remaining seats across the country to see if the Conservatives will have a majority in the new House of Commons, and then after that the district, borough, city, town and parish elections across East and West Sussex.
For rolling coverage of the counts on Friday and Saturday check our website and live political news stream.
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