East Surrey is a constituency[n 1] represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2010 by Sam Gyimah, who sits as a Liberal Democrat MP after the Conservative Party whip was removed from him in September 2019. Its record is that of a Conservative safe seat based on time and opposition. It has elected a Conservative Party MP on an absolute majority since the seat's establishment, in 1918, and its greatest share of the vote for any opposition candidate was 33.75% in February 1974.[n 2]
1832–1868: The Hundreds of Brixton, Kingston, Reigate, Tandridge and Wallington.
1868–1885: The Hundred of Tandridge, and so much of the Hundred of Wallington as included and lay to the east of the parishes of Croydon and Sanderstead, and so much of the Hundred of Brixton as included and lay to the east of the parishes of Streatham, Clapham and Lambeth.
1918–1950: The Urban Districts of Caterham, and Coulsdon and Purley, and the Rural District of Godstone.
1950–1974: The Urban Districts of Caterham and Warlingham, and Coulsdon and Purley.
1974–1983: The Urban District of Caterham and Warlingham, and the Rural District of Godstone.
1983–1997: The District of Tandridge.
1997–2010: The District of Tandridge, and the Borough of Reigate and Banstead wards of Horley East and Horley West.
East Surrey is a well-connected inner Home Counties seat, combining the town of Horley with Surrey's residual District Tandridge (as opposed to Boroughs which the other 10 parts have been created) which is made up of Caterham and modest commuter settlements, farming and retirement homes. Horley is one of two towns adjoining London Gatwick Airport and part of Reigate and Banstead borough. The area borders the London Borough of Croydon to the north, the county of Kent to the east, and the county of West Sussex to the south.
The northern part of the seat is inside the M25 motorway — Caterham, Whyteleafe and Warlingham form green-buffered, elevated commuter belt, with good rail connections to Central London and well-connected by all modes of transport to Croydon. Elsewhere, the seat is more rural and includes a low part of the Greensand Ridge and features woodland and many golf courses.
Most local wards are won by the Conservatives with the Liberal Democrats often picking up seats somewhere in the dual-council system, particularly in Whyteleafe or Caterham Valley. As is typical in seats of this kind, the Labour vote is typically very modest. The party finished in third place at the elections between 1959 and 2015. In 2017 the party's candidate polled second, in a poorer showing for the Liberal Democrats and the party's "Corbyn Surge". The early twenty-first century saw UKIP poll approximately as strongly as Lib Dems historically. The area saw a majority vote in favour of Brexit in the 2016 EU Referendum; whereas the sitting MP Sam Gyimah opposed Brexit.
An earlier constituency of the same name existed from 1832 to 1885. Formally and often known as the Eastern Division of Surrey or Surrey Eastern, it elected two MPs by the bloc vote system. It was created in the 1832 Reform Acts and covered land from Peckham and southern Brixton adjoining Southwark to Lingfield adjoining Sussex and from Kent to Capel and Kingston upon Thames, the latter adjoining one of Surrey's then western borders.
Central parts of Surrey, a county which then extended far into today's Greater London, were identified as requiring two MPs under the Second Reform Act, starting from the 1868 general election. Surrey benefited under this Reform Act 1867, which reduced malapportionment varyingly. From 1832 until 1867 the seat included a populous northern section being all of South London except for the Kentish parts of the South East London, Lambeth and Southwark.
In 1918 the constituency was re-established as East Surrey, taking rural and at most small suburban parts of Reigate and Croydon, and for the first time electing only one MP. It covered a smaller area, from the south of Croydon to the Kent and West Sussex borders. It included Lingfield, Oxted, Limpsfield, Godstone, Caterham and Woldingham.
Another General Election was required to take place before the end of 1940. The political parties had been making preparations for an election to take place from 1939 and by the end of this year, the following candidates had been selected;