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Dartford MP Gareth Johnson has hit out at critics who accused him of defeat after failing to stop crossing toll bridge hikes and vowed that he “will not give up”.

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The Reporter visited Mr Johnson in Westminster this week to press him on how he plans to continue the fight for residents who will suffer an increase in four months, followed by another in two years.

He insisted it is “not an impossible task” but admitted that his Tory colleagues had not accepted his point of view.

Asked if he will stand down if he fails, the MP said: “I would only stand down if I voted in favour of the tolls. I said I believe the tolls should be scrapped and I would continue to campaign for that.”

Labour Cllr Geoff Prout accused him of an “ignominious defeat” after the Department of Transport announced it was planning a hike in October this year, followed by another in October 2014.

“My voice is being heard,” Mr Johnson insisted. “I have persuaded the Department for Transport to prioritise tackling congestion and we have overturned Gordon Brown’s decision to privatise the crossing, which would have been disastrous.

“The only issue I have not persuaded them on is to get rid of the tolls. But I am not giving up.”

Many Dartford businesses prefer to stay south of the river to avoid paying the toll which means the full potential of the crossing is not helping local industry, said Mr Johnson.

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