Helen Hurford’s disappearing act at Tiverton and Honiton by-election will likely prove the most memorable moment of a lacklustre campaign
By Nick Gutteridge, Political Correspondent and Will Bolton www.telegraph.co.uk Extract
“She’s locked herself in a room!” Astonishment rippled through the assembled press pack as, barricaded in a dance studio, Helen Hurford, the Tory candidate in the Tiverton and Honiton by-election, prepared to hear her fate.
Her early morning disappearing act at a leisure centre in southern Devon will likely prove to be the most memorable moment of a Conservative campaign that failed to spark into life.
Comparisons will inevitably be drawn with the famous occasion when, during the 2019 general election battle, Boris Johnson hid in a fridge to escape from the television cameras.
Indeed, the Prime Minister dominated the Tiverton and Honiton by-election, just not in a way that Ms Hurford or the Tories would have wished.
In a terrible night for the Tories, they lost a huge majority in Tiverton and Honiton and surrendered Wakefield to Labour.
The Conservative candidate and her supporters in Tiverton seemed shell-shocked by the result, which saw the party surrender a record 24,239 majority to the Liberal Democrats.
She arrived at the Lords Meadow leisure centre in Crediton just before 3.30am, bolting past the assembled reporters towards a safe haven.
Her team directed her towards a dance studio next to the main counting hall which, ironically, had been set aside for media interviews with the candidates.
For the next 25 minutes they refused to let anybody in as a bigger and bigger media scrum assembled outside until, with the result imminent, she had to make a dash for it.
Ms Hurford ducked a volley of questions about her defeat and the role of the Prime Minister and dashed next door to hear her fate confirmed.
But there was one final indignity for the Conservative candidate, which came when she stumbled while filing towards the stage for the reading out of the results……