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Cheeky voters oust Lembit Opik

Small explosion in mid-Wales, asteroid not to blame

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In a night mostly lacking in spectacular surprises, one result struck like an asteroid out of the blue.

Colourful Lib Dem MP, Segway rider, chat show regular and Cheeky Girl admirer Lembit Opik lost Montgomeryshire – one of the safest Lib Dem seats in the country – by a landslide.

In one of the night’s more spectacular reversals, Opik saw a majority of over 7,000 – and a vote share of over 50 per cent - over-turned by Tory and former Welsh Assembly Member Glyn Davies. The swing of 13.2 per cent was one of, if not the largest from Lib Dem to Tories of the night.

The last couple of years have not been kind to Lembit. In July 2008, fiancée and Cheeky Girl singer Gabriela Irimia announced she would be “taking a break” from her relationship with the Lib Dem MP - although her mother denied that the couple were splitting up.

Following last night’s result, Opik, who has for some years been urging the government to take additional precautions against the surprise arrival of an asteroid didn’t quite admit that “he hadn’t seen it coming”.

Clearly put out, however, he told Jeremy Paxman that he was “surprised” by the result, which he found "personally very disappointing".

Commenting on the suggestion that his high media profile might have been partly to blame for this shock result, he added: "If the whole thing was a referendum on me, well, we will work that out."

Montgomeryshire is a largely rural constituency in mid-Wales. While it has a strong Liberal tradition, it is also regarded as socially highly conservative.

It is possible that Welsh farmers did not take kindly to the glittering lifestyle espoused by their Member of Parliament. It is also possible, given the extent of the surprise, that Opik had grown complacent and not paid as much attention to party organisation as is customary in Lib Dem seats. ®

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