Michelle Donelan made a rapid exit in the early hours of the morning after the new Melksham and Devizes seat was won by Liberal Democrat Brian Mathew.

She declined to comment and was the first candidate to leave Trowbridge County Hall, immediately after Mr Mathew’s speech and with her agent in tow.

To stand in this new constituency, Ms Donelan had made the decision to move over from Chippenham, the area for which she had been the MP since 2015.

However, in a historic turn of events, the Lib Dems secured Melksham and Devizes as the Conservatives lost a catastrophic number of seats across the country.

Ms Donelan was among the record number of ministers to lose their seats in this election, as Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology.

She has held a number of roles within the Conservative government throughout her career, including Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Minister of State for Higher and Further Education.

Ms Donelan arrived at the count for Melksham and Devizes in Trowbridge County Hall around 2am on July 5 but declined to speak to journalists throughout the night.

She watched closely as the votes were counted and it became increasingly apparent that the result might not go in the Conservatives’ favour.

At approximately 4.30am, she was made aware that her Liberal Democrat opponent, Brian Mathew, had secured the seat.

READ MORE: Melksham and Devizes results

He received 20,031 votes, whilst Ms Donelan received 17,630.

This represented 34 per cent of the vote, a significant drop from the 2019 Chippenham election during which she gathered over 50 per cent of the vote.

She had faced a tough challenge in convincing many disillusioned voters after she was the subject of a costly legal dispute this year.

In March 2024, it was reported that taxpayers covered a £15,000 bill to cover damages after she falsely accused an academic of supporting Hamas.

She had called for an investigation into Prof Kate Sang of Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, over some of the academic’s tweets.

Ms Donelan later withdrew her comments, saying she fully accepted Prof Sang was "not an extremist, a supporter of Hamas or other proscribed organisation".

Nevertheless, in April, an exclusive report by the Guardian revealed that UK taxpayers paid out more than £34,000 of the costs of this mistake, more than double the sum the government had previously admitted.

It was also shown that the UKRI investigation cost an additional £23,280, including VAT.

Lib Dem winner Brian Mathew described the result as a “new chapter” for Melksham and Devizes.