IT was a historic night as the Conservatives turned the former Labour stronghold of Burnley blue for the first time in 109 years.

Shockwaves reverberated around the St Peter’s Centre as rumours of Antony Higginbotham’s lead circulated about the count shortly before 2am – only to be confirmed a little over half-an-hour later.

It was then announced that Mr Higginbotham had pipped Labour’s Julie Cooper to the post, trumping her 14,368 votes with 15,720 – declaring a ‘historic’ night for the town.

He becomes the first Conservative MP for Burnley since Gerald Arbuthnot in 1910.

The banker said he was ‘ecstatic’ with the result, stating that ‘Christmas had come early for Boris and the Conservative Party.’

He said: “We’ve proved the doubters wrong and after more than 100 years we have delivered a Conservative MP for Burnley.

“I made a commitment to over the course of this campaign – I promised that if I was elected as member of Parliament, I would go down to Westminster and vote to take us out of the EU and I have every intention of doing that.

“I want to thank all of the voters of Burnley – not just those who voted for me, but those whose support I still have to earn.

“This was a historic vote for change in this area but it was also a vote to deliver on the referendum.”

Meanwhile a clearly devastated Julie Cooper – who had been the MP for the seat since defeating incumbent Liberal Democrat Gordon Birtwistle in 2015 – made a swift exit without speaking to the press.

However Mr Birtwistle himself, who had garnered 3,501 votes, was keen to thank the people of Burnley for turning out and voting, saying: “I’d like to thank all of those people who have come here tonight to witness this momentous occasion.”

Brexit Party candidate Stewart Scott polled the fourth highest amount of votes with 3,362, while Charlie Briggs for the Burnley and Padiham Independence Party Secured 1,162. Mr Briggs said: “I feel this was a Brexit vote more than anything and people voted for what they wanted – they did well. I’m very proud of all the people who voted for me and I’d like to thank all of my team and those who have supported me along the way.”