FOR one of East Lancashire’s longest-serving political servants, this election was won at a canter.

Ribble Valley’s Nigel Evans increased his majority over Labour from 13,199 to 18,439

He had already been significantly buoyed by the joint TV exit poll earlier in the evening before his expected victory was announced.

Even in the true-blue Clitheroe and villages seat, there has been no shortage of intrigue over the past 12 months.

Bitter infighting in the Conservative Party locally has seen off Ken Hind, himself a former West Lancashire MP.

But this schism barely dented Mr Evans’ procession back to Westminster, where he has served as everything from a member of the influential Conservatives' 1922 Committee to deputy chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

Unlike in past elections, there wasn’t even an Independent Conservative stalking horse to derail the Swansea-born Ribble Valley representative, who has held the constituency since 1992.

Before any of the major blood-letting of the night, Mr Evans had taken to Twitter to give his own interpretation of what might transpire, amid dire predictions for Labour of a Johnson surge in the North and Midlands.

“At last, if this is right , we can finally restore trust in politics and Parliament and give them the Brexit they voted for over three years ago,” he said.

Perhaps the turnout was slightly down on the night, from 70.8 per cent in 2017 to 69.8 per cent.

But this will be of little consolation to Labour, who saw candidate Giles Bridge poll 14,907, down on the 18,270 notched up by David Rinder two years ago.

There was some cheer for the Liberal Democrats, as Chantelle Seddon's 4,776 tally was a notable improvement on the 3,247 achieved by local councillor Allan Knox.

And the Greens edged forward also, as Paul Yates, on 1,704, outstripped the 1,314 racked up by Graham Sowter in 2017.