EARLY mood music set the tone for the Conservatives’ Jake Berry and his return to Westminster in Rossendale and Darwen.

More than a dozen blue-rosette sporting Tories crowded around election agent Paul Fairhurst for a pep talk at The Riverside in Whitworth, before the counting process began in earnest.

Across the same lounge their Labour counterparts, maybe still reeling from the exit poll announcement minutes before, were looking resigned, if not forlorn.

Cllr Neil Slater (Con, Darwen South) was quick to dampen any unbridled glee, cautioning against believing what might, for his party, “look too good to be true”.

But there was little disguising the grins as the evening unfolded and it became apparent there would be no sea change in this corner of East Lancs.

Mr Berry, who has served as Northern Powerhouse Minister and was one of Boris Johnson’s allies in his journey to No. 10, might be in a position to see his star rise yet further in the coming days.

He said after his victory: “What we are seeing everywhere around the country is the rejection of the politics of the hard left."

Mr Berry believed his win was an endorsement of the "positive Conservative agenda" for Rossendale and Darwen.

Earlier Labour’s Alyson Barnes said: “It’s the air war and not the ground war where these things are decided.”

She told the Telegraph she remained desperately disappointed that she knew people in the area who were just as worse off now than when the Tories came to power nine years ago.

And in her concession speech, she added: "Clearly the Labour Party has much to learn from this election and I am absolutely certain that we will go about that right away."

For the Liberal Democrats, Paul Valentine was hoping to improve on their 2017 performance, which saw them secure just over three per cent of the vote.

Another borough council seat in Blackburn with Darwen, as Paul Browne returned to the town hall in Darwen South, had given cause for hope. But in the end their return was only just over four per cent.

The Greens polled higher, at 1,193, with Sarah Hall, than the 824 John Payne gained in 2017. But their candidate, like at earlier hustings, failed to put in an appearance at the count.