[This is broadly what I said at the count in High Wycombe on 8 May: I did not have a script and a recording was not taken.]
It is a privilege and joy to be re-elected to represent Wycombe in Parliament. I am grateful to the electors of Wycombe for sending me back.
It is humbling to see the ballot papers laid out at the end of the count. Not just because I see now how many people have placed their trust in the Conservatives and in me but because I see how many did not vote Conservative. It is my intention to serve the common interests of them all.
Many thanks to the Returning Officer and all the officials who have worked so hard to deliver this result and to preserve this institution of democracy. Just once in twenty years do the Parliamentary and District elections coincide so we owe a debt of gratitude to all the officials who have so much work still to do later today.
I particularly want to thank the Police. As a result of their diligence and vigour, we seem to have had fewer incidents this year than in 2010. They have played their role in maintaining the integrity of the election and I feel sure they have further work to do yet.
In the past five years, I have learned that our institutions are maintained by great people but often not the people who are remembered by history. They are those who labour hard for small rewards and few thanks over many years in the machinery of our democracy. I have learned that all the main parties’ political agents are committed to the integrity of our elections and I want to thank them all. I am particularly proud of the Conservative agent, Sue Hynard.
I am hugely grateful to my supporters and especially the District Council candidates for making possible this result and for giving me so much encouragement. I am proud that Wycombe Conservatives represent every section of our community. We are more vibrant than we were five years ago and I look forward to working together.
My wife Beth has put up with more than any wife should have to, in common with every MP’s spouse. We were handed a small book about it at the start and I suppose we should go back and compare notes. She has loved me as perfectly as any man could hope.
Finally, I pay tribute to my opponents. They have run civilised campaigns which served the public interest. Indeed, at the end of the Marlow Bottom hustings, one member of the public rose to thank us for not insulting or abusing one another, not talking over one another and generally conducting ourselves decently. I feel sure I will see David Williams again.
This has been a horrible night for the Liberal Democrats. Five years ago, they did what was right in the interests of our country. Now across the country they have been punished for the compromises they made. Both locally and nationally, we cannot afford for liberalism to collapse out of the political process. We shall have to see what can be done to ensure they remain part of our national and local conversation.
Once again, a huge thank you to the electors of Wycombe for choosing Conservative government. If the exit polls are correct, it may be that we shall go forward together to secure a better and brighter future with the Conservatives in government.