An electoral reform campaigner was the candidate to gain the fewest votes in the General Election despite urging people not to vote for him at all. 

William Tobin, 66, gained five votes in Uxbridge and South Ruislip and said he stood in the Prime Minister’s constituency to draw attention to unfairness. 

Mr Tobin said: “I asked people not to vote for me. 48,152 of the electors of Uxbridge and South Ruislip heeded my call. I received five out of 48,157 votes. Boris Johnson asked people to vote for him and only 25,351 did. A massive majority for me!”

The retired physics and astronomy professor ran an election campaign urging “Don’t Vote Tobin” to represent UK nationals who are unable to vote in UK elections, including British people living abroad for fifteen years or more and under 18s.

A key message of his campaign was getting into the Guinness Book of World Records as the candidate with the fewest ever votes in a general election to highlight although Mr Tobin cannot vote, electoral law allows him to stand as an MP.

He said the Guinness Book of World Records was really a throw-away remark taken too seriously, although getting in would have been a little bit of icing on the cake.

However, two candidates pipped Mr Tobin to the post, obtaining zero votes in 1952 and 1874 respectively.

Currently living in France, Mr Tobin listed his friend’s house in Uxbridge as his office, launched a crowd-funder to cover his campaign costs and went door knocking to persuade residents to give him the ten signatures needed to stand.

His Uxbridge and South Ruislip co-candidate, fathers' rights activist Bobby Smith, came second to last in the 2019 general election with eight votes. 

The Give Me Back ELMO campaign founder, who calls for the end of discrimination of fathers in family courts, is a social media staple during UK elections, ’photobombing’ serious coverage dressed in a Sesame Street Elmo costume.

When asked why he campaigned wearing a suffragette sash, Mr Tobin said: “Partly I was overshadowed by Lord Buckethead and Count Binface, though I hope my suffragette sash made me visible.

"Like the suffragettes before us, we deserve a say in our own lives. That's why I adopted their colours and sash for my campaign.

“The movement for proportional representation has also adopted the suffragette colours, an obvious choice for anyone who is fighting against the numerous injustices in the British electoral system.”

A spokesperson for the Electoral Reform Society said: “Millions of votes go to waste but at the same time millions more felt like they have to hold their nose at the ballot box and vote for someone who wasn’t their first or even their second choice.

“We also saw the debate massively warped by, not just talk about tactical voting, but parties standing aside because they were worried about splitting the vote which leave millions of people feeling absolutely voiceless, unheard and disillusioned with the political system.

"We campaign for a change for the seats in parliament mass votes and diversity of ways of campaigning to do that is always welcome.”

Mr Tobin said: “Because Brexit was the main election issue, I didn't want to drain any anti-Brexit votes, which was why I asked people not to vote for me.

“The Conservatives have for a third time promised in their election manifesto to give people like me ‘votes for life’. We shall see if they keep their word this time, but I harbour some scepticism.”

When asked why he thinks people voted for him when asked not to, Mr Tobin said: “I am sure some electors got confused in the booth, or forgot their spectacles and put their cross in the wrong place. Or some people took the throw-away Guinness Book of Records remarks too seriously and wanted to thwart that.”

On 9 January, The Commons voted 330 to 231 in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill after years of political turmoil, meaning UK will likely exit from the EU on January 31 after the bill is scrutinised by the House of Lords.

Mr Tobin said: “Britain’s likely exit on the 31st January makes me sick.

“I will lose my right to follow my multi-national daughters should they decide to establish themselves in some other EU country.

"It’s like having one hand cut off, whereas a no-deal exit would cut off both hands. Obviously, I would prefer to keep both hands.”

Mr Tobin added although campaigning invigorated him, he suspects in five years time he will not have the energy to stand again.