A number of Catholic politicians have spoken out on yesterday’s General Election, which ended in a hung parliament, with no party holding an absolute majority in the House of Commons.
The evening began with Newcastle beating its arch-rival Sunderland to be the first constituency to declare a General Election result.
However, Sunderland declared its first result minutes later, with Catholic Labour candidate Bridget Phillipson re-elected to the seat of Houghton and Sunderland South.
Ms Phillipson put the slightly slower declaration at this election down to the increased turnout.
“I think it’s great for democracy, it means the count here was a little bit slower, but that’s a price worth paying for seeing more people voting,” she said.
Labour’s Jack Dromey also saw off the Tory challenge in Birmingham Erdington, one of the Conservatives’ key target seats, and accused Mrs May of trying to vilify Jeremy Corbyn.
In a victory speech at Birmingham’s International Convention Centre, Mr Dromey, a Catholic, told supporters: “What we saw today was a decisive rejection of a Prime Minister who has engaged in a cut and run General Election…of a catastrophic campaign that caused pain to pensioners and anxiety to parents.”
Claiming the Tory campaign had been “characterised by vilification that plumbed a new depth” in British politics, Mr Dromey said of his re-election: “It was a rejection also of the notion that somehow Erdington Conservatism is the party of working people.
“The people of Erdington have seen through that, it is the Labour Party that has always been the party of working people and always will be.
“This result is an endorsement of a progressive manifesto that seized the imagination and the united Labour Party campaign led by Jeremy Corbyn.”
Meanwhile, one of the authors of the ill-fated Conservative manifesto became a high-profile casualty of the election.
Cabinet Office minister Ben Gummer, a Catholic who had been tipped for promotion if Theresa May was returned to Number 10, lost his Ipswich seat to Labour by 831 votes.
He played a key role as part of the team responsible for the manifesto, which contained the controversial shake-up of social care funding branded the ‘dementia tax’ by critics, forcing Mrs May to execute a humiliating U-turn in the middle of the election campaign.
However, former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, also a Catholic, said it would be a “grave error” for the party to embark on another leadership contest.
“We need to, first of all, find out what the result is, what the final result – whether or not it is feasible for us to put a government together, we don’t know that yet,” he said prior to the final result.
“The party has to meet, they have to talk to her and decide whether or not this is what she wants to do and if she does want to do it then, frankly, we need that stability at the moment.”
But Mr Duncan Smith, who managed to clinch onto his Chingford and Woodford Green stronghold, accepted “it’s clearly not going to be business as usual”.
Nonetheless, prominent Catholic Conservative backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg said many Tories were still loyal to the Mrs May, despite growing concern over the election result.
“I believe Mrs May will have a good deal of support,” said Mr Rees-Mogg, who held his Somerset North East seat.
“She’s only been the leader for under a year, she got it without any opposition, with an uncontested election with support up and down the country.
“I don’t think the Conservative Party is so fickle or such a fair-weather friend as it would not continue to back the Prime Minister.”
Picture: Storm clouds above the Palace of Westminster in London. (Andrew Matthews/PA Wire).