WITNEY MP and returning Prime Minister David Cameron will today set about finalising his first Conservativeonly Government after leading the party to a resounding victory.
Defying all pre-election predictions for a hung parliament, the Tories won 331 seats, securing an overall majority, as Labour slumped to 232.
Mr Cameron last night began the process of putting together his government and his first move was to reappoint George Osborne as Chancellor, Theresa May as Home Secretary and Philip Hammond as Foreign Secretary.
Mr Osborne will also be First Secretary of State.
It was an undisputed triumph for Mr Cameron that saw his rivals Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage all resign after election disappointment, the later failing to be elected as an MP.
It was a devastating evening for the Liberal Democrats, who ended up with just eight MPs, down from 57 in 2010.
Among the big-name scalps to fall were Energy Secretary Ed Davey, Business Secretary Vince Cable and Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander, along with Labour’s shadow chancellor Ed Balls and, against the national trend, the Conservative’s Minister of State for Employment Esther McVey.
There was no such worry for the Tory leader in Witney, one of the safest seats in the country, and he increased his majority after gaining 35,201 votes, compared to 33,973 votes in 2010.
Following an audience with the Queen at Buckingham Palace to confirm his second term in office, Mr Cameron returned to Downing Street with a pledge to restore unity to the country.
Speaking outside Number 10, Mr Cameron vowed to govern for the whole of the United Kingdom, his words coming as the Scottish National Party won almost every seat in Scotland.
The SNP got 56 seats out of 59, leaving one each to Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems.
Mr Cameron said: “As we conduct this vital work, we must ensure that we bring our country together. We will govern as a party of one nation, one United Kingdom.
“It means bringing together the different nations of our United Kingdom. I have always believed in governing with respect.
“In this parliament, I will stay true to my word and implement as fast as I can the devolution that all parties agreed for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.”
He continued: “When I stood here five years ago, our country was in the grip of an economic crisis.
“Five years on, Britain is so much stronger. But the real opportunities lie ahead.
“This is a country with unrivalled skills and creativeness, a country with such good humour and such great compassion.
“I am convinced that if we draw on all of this, then we can take these islands, with our proud history, and build an even prouder future.
“Together, we can make Great Britain greater still.”
Thursday night was the first time a government had increased its majority since 1983, with the Tories far outperforming polls that predicted another hung parliament.
The British Polling Council said it would hold an inquiry into why there was such a discrepancy between the polls and the actual result.
Meanwhile UKIP and the Green Party both promised to campaign for electoral reform after getting almost five million votes between them but only one seat each.
David Cameron factfile
- DAVID Cameron took an interest in politics from an early age.
- But during his days as a Philosophy, Politics and Economics student at Oxford University’s Brasenose College he probably never imagined he would one day be Prime Minister, first of a coalition government, and then heading a Conservative majority government.
- After graduating from Oxford, Mr Cameron took a research role with the Conservative Research Department in 1988. He then worked for the Treasury and the Home Office.
- Mr Cameron then switched to TV public relations and stayed in the role until he was elected as an MP.
- In June 2001 Mr Cameron became MP for Witney and held a number of shadow cabinet posts before being elected Leader of the Opposition in December 2005.
- He had been the youngest contender for the job as leader and impressed party members by delivering a passionate speech without notes at the autumn Tory conference.
- Mr Cameron’s predecessors in the Witney seat were also high-profile MPs.
- Douglas Hurd was Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he was the Witney MP.
- Mr Hurd’s successor, Shaun Woodward, only represented the seat for four years before defecting to Labour in 1999 two years after being elected. He stepped down in 2001, went on to serve in another seat, and became Northern Ireland Secretary.
- In May 2010, Mr Cameron, then 44, became the youngest Prime Minister in almost 200 years when the Conservatives formed a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.
- The Conservative Party leader married his wife Samantha in 1996 and they live near Chipping Norton with their children Nancy, Arthur and Florence.
- Mr Cameron has often been pictured out and about in West Oxfordshire, most recently visiting the Chipping Norton Literary Festival and shopping in Charlbury.
- The couple’s first child Ivan suffered cerebral palsy and needed 24-hour care before he died in February, 2009, aged six.