Newly returned DUP East Derry MP Gregory Campbell has said that the DUP’s election success across the north has been “beyond our wildest, wildest dreams”.
Mr Campbell along with his DUP colleagues could now prove instrumental to the formation of a new Conservative led government in Britain.
The DUP stalwart increased his vote by over 4,000 from the last Westminster election of 2015, with 19,723 voting for him this time round.
His nearest rival was Sinn Fein’s Dermot Nicholl, who brought huge gains for Sinn Fein in East Derry with 10,881 votes.
This compared to the party’s previous Westminster showing in 2015, when candidate Caoimhe Archibald received 6,859 votes.
There were cheers at the Foyle Arena from DUP party activist and supporters early on Friday morning as Mr Campbell was deemed elected.
Mr Campbell paid tribute to his constituency team, saying they had “knocked on 100,000 doors” across the region and that “the result are there for all to see”.
He then rounded on those within the nationalist community whom he claimed had singled him out for “attack, and for lambasting and for criticism”.
To cheers and cries of ‘hear! hear!’, he said: “Gerry Adams said two years ago ‘we have to break them’. Well we’re not broken tonight Gerry!
“There are 19,723 reasons why we are not broken tonight.”
He also claimed Sinn Fein leader in the north Michelle O’Neill and SDLP leader Colum Eastwood had launched attacks on him over recent times, but said the strength of the vote was all the right of reply that was needed.
Looking beyond the elections, he said: “Everyone else now needs to make progress. We have said repeatedly we are prepared to go into government and build for the future for everyone in this country. This Monday must be the test of that progress.
“We have difficult, hard decisions to make. There are issues we want to see resolved, but we are not prepared to hold the people of Northern Ireland to ransom to get those issues resolved. Sinn Fein have been,” he claimed, adding: “The question is on Monday are they prepared to move on?
“I hope we can all learn from the past and move on to a brighter and better future. This party will rise to the challenge.”
Speaking about the DUP’s success across the north, taking 10 seats and making them key to a potential new Conservative led government, Mr Campbell said:
“This party has had a magnificent result, a result beyond our wildest, wildest expectations.
“This constituency went up from a majority of around 6,000 to almost 10,000, unprecedented victory.
“Hopefully people will learn lessons from this votes, and move on to a brighter better future for us all, for all of our communities within the United Kingdom.”
SDLP candidate for East Derry Stephanie Quigley received 4,423 votes, while Ulster Unionist Richard Holmes attracting 3,135 votes.
Alliance Candidate Chris McCaw came in with 2,538 votes, and bringing up the rear was Conservative candidate Liz St Clair- Legge on 330 votes.