THE new Conservative MP for Darlington’s first job yesterday was an early morning start at Bank Top station to wave off the last of the out-moded Pacer trains, as a new fleet comes into operation on Monday.

Solicitor Peter Gibson said: “Travelling from Saltburn to Redcar for school as a nine-year-old, I recall these trains being introduced to replace the slam-door trains. I’m 44 now – this is a great new dawn for the railway travellers of the north.”

Mr Gibson received 48 per cent of the vote to unseat Jenny Chapman, who got 40 per cent. He won a majority of 3,280 recorded in 2017. He is the first Conservative to be elected as MP since Michael Fallon in 1987.

“People have beeping their horns at me and white transit van drivers have been shouting ‘Gibbo for Darlo’ and waving at me, which is a big boost for my ego,” he said.

His first phone calls were to arrange meetings with the chief executive of the Darlington Memorial Hospital trust. “I want to understand what the hospital needs in terms of further investment,” he said.

And, as he lives near Thirsk, he began the job of house-hunting, with the Northgate area being the potential base for home or office.

“I have fallen in love with this town and its people and I can think of no greater privilege than serving every community throughout the course of the next Parliament,” he said. “I am looking forward to being the MP for everybody in this town, regardless of them living in DL1 or DL3. They will see me as much in Red Hall and Skerne Park as they will in Hummersknott or Mowden, and so Northgate could be a symbol of that.”

Ms Chapman, a shadow Brexit minister, was present throughout the count at the Dolphin Centre. The result, declared at about 1.15am, made Darlington the first significant swing seat of the night and Ms Chapman stayed long after her defeat to do a round of media interviews.

She said: “I feel numb about the whole thing, but we live to fight another day and I’m very proud of my campaign team.

“I’m disappointed, but it’s not about me. I’m most concerned about what this means for the people in Darlington who really need a Labour government, and we failed to deliver one.”

She congratulated Mr Gibson, and pledged to hold him to account.

The LibDems came third, doubling their vote to 2,097, but just falling under the five per cent threshold needed to retain their deposit. The Brexit Party was fourth, 500 votes ahead of Matthew Snedker of the Greens who got 1,057 votes.