Wantage (UK Parliament constituency)

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County constituency
for the House of Commons
Outline map
Boundary of Wantage in Oxfordshire
Outline map
Location of Oxfordshire within England
Electorate90,876 (December 2019)
Major settlementsWantage, Didcot, Wallingford, Faringdon
Current constituency
Member of ParliamentDavid Johnston (Conservative)
Number of membersOne
Created fromAbingdon (majority of) (note: abolished)

Wantage is a constituency[n 1] in Oxfordshire represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom by Conservative MP David Johnston.[1][n 2]

Johnston was first elected at the 2019 general election replacing Ed Vaizey who served as MP for Wantage for 14 years after first being elected at the 2005 general election.[2]


The constituency was created for the 1983 general election further to the Third Periodic Review of Westminster Constituencies. This followed on from the reorganisation of local government under the Local Government Act 1972 which came in to force in April 1974. This saw the bulk of the area represented by the constituency of Abingdon in Berkshire being transferred to Oxfordshire. Under the Review, the majority of the Abingdon constituency formed the new constituency of Wantage, with the town of Abingdon-on-Thames and areas to the west of Oxford being included in the new constituency of Oxford West and Abingdon.

The first MP for Wantage was Robert Jackson, who served as a junior minister under both Margaret Thatcher and John Major. Jackson defected to the Labour Party in 2005 shortly before standing down as an MP for the 2005 general election. At that election, Ed Vaizey was elected as MP for Wantage and 2010-2016 held the post of Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries.

Ed Vaizey served as MP for Wantage until the 2019 general election whereby Vaizey announced that he would be standing down. Shortly prior to this, Vaizey had the Conservative whip removed after voting against Prime Minister Boris Johnson on 3 September 2019.[3] Vaizey had the Conservative whip restored on 29 October 2019.[4] This meant that, for a brief time, Wantage was represented by an independent MP. David Johnston was selected as the Conservative candidate to represent Wantage and was duly elected as the new MP for Wantage at the 2019 general election.[5]

The seat, including its forerunner, has been won by Conservative Party candidates since 1924. The 2015 result made the seat the 76th-safest of the Conservative Party's 331 seats by percentage of majority.[6]

All five parties' candidates achieved more than the deposit-retaining threshold of 5% of the vote in 2015. Social Democrat candidate Winifred Tumin won the largest third-party share of the vote to date, in the 1983 election — 32.3% of the vote.

Constituency profile[edit]

The Wantage constituency covers the south-western part of Oxfordshire. There are three market towns in the constituency: Faringdon, Wallingford and Wantage. All have tourist attractions, Wantage having monuments to being the birthplace of King Alfred the Great, Wallingford, ancient enclosure walls of a castle and a medieval bridge.[n 3] Faringdon bears a scar of the English Civil War as its church lost its steeple. The largest town in the constituency is Didcot, which grew up around the Great Western Railway when Isambard Kingdom Brunel built a branch line from its main line between London and Bristol to Oxford, siting the junction at the then-sparsely-populated parish and it has a power station and many major national construction and aggregate industries.

The constituency is mostly rural in character, with more than 400 farms in operation. Included are the Uffington White Horse and The Ridgeway, a prehistoric road, runs along its southern border. The River Thames runs along the northern and western border. The area is affluent and Conservative in nature containing many commuters with fast transport links to London, with Didcot the only area with a strong Labour vote locally. The seat includes international race horse breeders and trainers with racing stables across a broad area that reaches into the Lambourn Downs, crossing over the southern border into the Newbury constituency in Berkshire.

Workless claimants, registered jobseekers, were in November 2012 significantly lower than the national average of 3.8%, at 1.6% of the population based on a statistical compilation by The Guardian.

Boundaries and boundary changes[edit]

Map of current boundaries

1983–2010: The District of Vale of White Horse wards of Appleton, Craven, Drayton, Faringdon and Littleworth, Greendown, Grove, Harwell and Chilton, Hendred, Icknield, Island Villages, Kingston Bagpuize and Southmoor, Longworth, Marcham, Segsbury, Shrivenham, Stanford, Steventon, Sutton Courtenay, The Coxwells, and Upton and Blewbury, and the District of South Oxfordshire wards of Brightwell, Cholsey, Didcot North, Didcot Northbourne, Didcot South, Hagbourne, and Wallingford.

The new constituency included Wantage, Wallingford, Faringdon and Didcot which had previously all been part of the abolished constituency of Abingdon.

2010–present: The District of Vale of White Horse wards of Blewbury and Upton, Craven, Drayton, Faringdon and The Coxwells, Greendown, Grove, Hanneys, Harwell, Hendreds, Kingston Bagpuize with Southmoor, Longworth, Marcham and Shippon, Shrivenham, Stanford, Sutton Courtenay and Appleford, Wantage Charlton, and Wantage Segsbury, and the District of South Oxfordshire wards of Brightwell, Cholsey and Wallingford South, Didcot All Saints, Didcot Ladygrove, Didcot Northbourne, Didcot Park, Hagbourne, and Wallingford North.

Marginal changes due to the realignment of the boundaries following changes to local authority wards.

In 2021 the Boundary Commission for England proposed boundary changes to the Wantage constituency in order to reduce the number of electorate in the constituency.[7] At the time of the 2019 General Election, Wantage's total electorate was 90,845, making it the largest constituency in Oxfordshire and the 13th largest in the United Kingdom.[8] The proposals would see the total electorate reduced to 71,460 which is significantly closer to the average electorate of 72,200 for constituencies in England.[9][10]

The commission proposed the renaming of the Wantage constituency to 'Didcot and Wantage'.[11] The proposed boundary changes would see the wards of Faringdon, Kingston Bagpuize, Stanford in the Vale, Watchfield and Shrivenham move into the Witney constituency, whilst the newly renamed Didcot and Wantage constituency would absorb the wards of Clifton Hampden, Culham, Nuneham Courtenay and Sandford-on-Thames from the Henley constituency.[12][13]

Members of Parliament[edit]

Election Member[14] Party
1983 Robert Jackson Conservative
Jan 2005 Labour[15]
2005 Ed Vaizey Conservative
Oct 2019 Independent[16]
2019 David Johnston Conservative


Elections in the 2010s[edit]

General election 2019: Wantage[5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative David Johnston 34,085 50.7 Decrease3.5
Liberal Democrats Richard Benwell 21,432 31.9 Increase17.4
Labour Jonny Roberts 10,181 15.2 Decrease11.7
Independent Mark Gray 1,475 2.2 New
Majority 12,653 18.8 Decrease8.5
Turnout 67,173 73.9 Increase1.4
Conservative hold Swing Decrease10.4
General election 2017: Wantage[17]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Ed Vaizey 34,459 54.2 +0.9
Labour Co-op Rachel Eden 17,079 26.9 +10.9
Liberal Democrats Christopher Carrigan 9,234 14.5 +1.4
Green Sue Ap-Roberts 1,546 2.4 -2.7
UKIP David McLeod 1,284 2.0 -10.5
Majority 17,380 27.3 -10.0
Turnout 63,602 72.5 +2.2
Conservative hold Swing -4.95
General election 2015: Wantage[18][19][20]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Ed Vaizey 31,092 53.3 +1.3
Labour Stephen Webb 9,343 16.0 +2.1
Liberal Democrats Alex Meredith 7,611 13.1 -14.8
UKIP Lee Upcraft 7,288 12.5 +8.2
Green Kate Prendergast 2,986 5.1 +3.2
Majority 21,749 37.3 +17.2
Turnout 58,320 70.3 +0.3
Conservative hold Swing -0.4
General election 2010: Wantage
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Ed Vaizey 29,284 52.0 +8.9
Liberal Democrats Alan Armitage 15,737 27.9 +0.3
Labour Steven Mitchell 7,855 13.9 -10.0
UKIP Jacqueline Jones 2,421 4.3 +2.8
Green Adam Twine 1,044 1.9 -0.7
Majority 13,547 24.1 +8.7
Turnout 56,341 70.0 +1.9
Conservative hold Swing +4.3

Elections in the 2000s[edit]

General election 2005: Wantage
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Ed Vaizey 22,354 43.0 +3.4
Liberal Democrats Andrew Crawford 14,337 27.6 −0.4
Labour Mark McDonald 12,464 24.0 −4.2
Green Adam Twine 1,332 2.6 +0.4
UKIP Nikolai Tolstoy 798 1.5 -0.4
English Democrat Gerald Lambourne 646 1.2 New
Majority 8,017 15.4 +4.0
Turnout 51,931 68.2 +3.7
Conservative hold Swing +1.9
General election 2001: Wantage
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Robert Jackson 19,475 39.6 -0.2
Labour Stephen Beer 13,875 28.2 -0.7
Liberal Democrats Neil Fawcett 13,776 28.0 +1.5
Green David Brooks-Saxl 1,062 2.2 +1.1
UKIP Nikolai Tolstoy 941 1.9 +1.1
Majority 5,600 11.4 +0.5
Turnout 49,129 64.5 -13.6
Conservative hold Swing +0.3

Elections in the 1990s[edit]

General election 1997: Wantage
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Robert Jackson 22,311 39.81 -14.3
Labour Celia Wilson 16,222 28.94 +7.5
Liberal Democrats Jenny Riley 14,862 26.52 +1.5
Referendum Stuart Rising 1,549 2.76 New
Green Miriam Kennet 640 1.14 -0.4
UKIP Nikolai Tolstoy 465 0.83 New
Majority 6,089 10.87 -18.2
Turnout 56,049 78.10 -4.6
Conservative hold Swing -10.9
General election 1992: Wantage[21]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Robert Jackson 30,575 54.1 +0.1
Liberal Democrats RMC Morgan 14,102 25.0 −5.5
Labour Co-op Vivian Woodell 10,955 19.4 +3.9
Green RJ Ely 867 1.5 New
Majority 16,473 29.1 +5.6
Turnout 56,499 82.7 +4.8
Conservative hold Swing +2.8

Elections in the 1980s[edit]

General election 1987: Wantage
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Robert Jackson 27,951 54.0 +1.1
SDP Winifred Tumim 15,795 30.49 −1.8
Labour Stephen Ladyman 8,055 15.55 +1.0
Majority 12,156 23.47 +2.9
Turnout 51,801 77.9 +1.0
Conservative hold Swing +1.4
General election 1983: Wantage
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Robert Jackson 25,992 52.88
SDP Winifred Tumim 15,867 32.28
Labour AJD Popper 7,115 14.47
Wessex Regionalist AP Mockler 183 0.37
Majority 10,125 20.60
Turnout 49,157 76.87
Conservative win (new seat)

Neighbouring constituencies[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A county constituency (for the purposes of election expenses and type of returning officer)
  2. ^ As with all constituencies, the constituency elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election at least every five years.
  3. ^ The town was granted a Royal Charter in 1155 and sent two MPs from 1295 until 1832, see Wallingford (UK Parliament constituency)


  1. ^ "Wantage". UK Parliament. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  2. ^ "Rt Hon Edward Vaizey". UK Parliament. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  3. ^ "Brexit showdown: Who were Tory rebels who defied Boris Johnson?". BBC News. 5 September 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  4. ^ "Boris Johnson readmits 10 Brexit rebels to Tory party". BBC News. 29 October 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Wantage Parliamentary constituency - Election 2019". BBC News. 13 December 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  6. ^ "Conservative Members of Parliament 2015". UK Political.info. Archived from the original on 8 June 2017. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  7. ^ Lynch, David (9 June 2021). "What the new election boundaries for Oxfordshire could look like". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 29 March 2022.
  8. ^ "Wantage Parliamentary constituency". BBC News. 13 December 2019. Retrieved 29 March 2022.
  9. ^ "Didcot and Wantage County Constituency" (PDF). Boundary Commission for England. Retrieved 29 March 2022.
  10. ^ "Parliamentary constituencies". UK Parliament. Retrieved 29 March 2022.
  11. ^ "South East". Boundary Commission for England. Retrieved 29 March 2022.
  12. ^ Courts, Robert. "Robert Responds to Boundary Commission's Initial Proposals". Robert Courts MP. Retrieved 29 March 2022.
  13. ^ "Our proposals for South East". Boundary Commission for England. Retrieved 29 March 2022.
  14. ^ Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "W" (part 1)
  15. ^ See List of British politicians who have crossed the floor#2001–2005 Parliament
  16. ^ (Lost Conservative whip for voting to stop a no deal Brexit, reinstated on October 29)
  17. ^ "Wantage Parliamentary constituency". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  18. ^ "Election Data 2015". Electoral Calculus. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  19. ^ "Parliamentary election - Vale of White Horse District Council". 17 June 2015. Archived from the original on 17 June 2015.
  20. ^ "Wantage". bbc.co.uk.
  21. ^ "Politics Resources". Election 1992. Politics Resources. 9 April 1992. Retrieved 6 December 2010.

Coordinates: 51°36′N 1°26′W / 51.60°N 1.43°W / 51.60; -1.43