SKIPTON'S newly re-elected and knighted MP Conservative Julian Smith has said he was 'humbled' by the doorstep conversations he had with electors in the weeks before the general election.

Sir Julian Smith was awarded Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath, one of the highest honours, in Rishi Sunak's Dissolution Honours, in recognition of his political and public service on the same day of last week's general election.

The former Government Chief Whip and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, mediated the resolution of the nurses' strike last year, advised the then Prime Minister on Northern Ireland related issues, and undertook a huge amount of work trying to resolve the junior doctors in their long running pay dispute.

Sir Julian, who has held the Skipton and Ripon seat for the Conservatives since 2010, received 18,833 votes in Thursday's general election, 1,650 votes ahead of the 17,183 of his closest rival, Labour's Malcolm Birks, an architect who lives in Skipton.

His win, with a vastly reduced majority, was declared at just after 6am on Friday following the count, which took place in Harrogate instead of at Skipton Town Hall, where general election counts have traditionally taken place, apart from in 2019 when the count temporarily moved to Gargrave Village Hall, because of work going on at the town hall.

It was one of the few wins of the night for the Conservative Party, which suffered the worst defeat in a parliamentary election in modern times, and saw a landslide victory for the Labour Party. It was also in stark contrast to the last general election in 2019 when Julian Smith took 34,919 of the votes, achieving a majority of 23,694 over Labour's Brian McDaid with his 11,225.

Following his win, Sir Julian posted on X, formerly Twitter, "Delighted to have re-elected as MP for Skipton and Ripon. Thank you for to the candidates, North Yorkshire Council, my local party, agent and parliamentary team, CCHQ and the volunteers who supported me. The doorstep conversations of this post Covid election were humbling - UK democracy is alive and kicking."

Sir Julian told the Craven Herald that his doorstep conversations with people had been very moving and that people had really wanted to talk; and with that in mind he was looking at ways in which he could engage more with his constituents in addition to the regular surgeries.

Speaking after the result, Labour's Mr Birks thanked all who had voted for him and welcomed a 'seismic shift in local politics'.

"Unfortunately, we came up just short, but have achieved a very large swing to Labour and have turned a once Tory-stronghold into a marginal seat. Our 13 per cent increase in the vote share was way in excess of the national picture, this represents a seismic shift in local politics," said Mr Birks.

He added: "I feel privileged to have met hundreds of local people during the election campaign and to have heard their stories. From extraordinary entrepreneurs creating jobs and opportunities, to fantastic childcare workers, battling against the odds. From dedicated local campaign groups working to unveil the truth, to heroic healthcare support workers. From expert farmers producing wonderful food, to environmentalists leading the way in nature recovery. So many inspiring people powering our area forwards.

"I have also seen places of great deprivation and whole communities feeling disillusioned and cut-off. The actions of the last Conservative government have had a profound, negative effect on whole sections of our society, with devastating consequences.

"I am confident that the new Labour government will quickly bring about the changes needed to improve the lives of working people and unify our communities. This will be vital if we are to avoid further descent into the dark depths of populism and prejudice."

He added: "I really hope that our local MP, mayor and councillors can work together constructively for the benefit of our area. Our constituency can feel peripheral to those in the centres of power and we must not allow the very real issues here to be forgotten, or to receive only the crumbs of investment.

"Therefore, I feel we must both celebrate more loudly the best of what takes place here and also bring attention to the very real problems that lie beneath the surface. 
Thank you to the many people who took the time to speak to me these past few weeks. You have inspired me and, with a Labour government now in place, I feel we can face the future with optimism. "

The turnout in Skipton and Ripon was 67.69 per cent. Julian Smith took 35.2 per cent of the vote with his 18,833 votes, and Malcolm Birks took 32.2 per cent with his 17,183, a rise of 13 percentage points from the last general election in 2019.

In third place was Simon Garvey for Reform UK with 8,516 votes, 15.9 per cent of the votes cast; followed by the Liberal Democrat's Andrew Murday with 4,194 (7.9 per cent); Andy Brown, the Green Party, who lives in Cononley, with 3,446 (6.5 per cent); Ryan Kett, of the Yorkshire Party with 627 votes (1.2 per cent0; Independent, Keith Tordoff with 493 (0.9 per cent), and Guy Phoenix for the Heritage Party with 158 (0.3 per cent).