The Conservatives have won the Hartlepool by-election in a seat that has been under Labour’s control since it was formed in the 1970s.
Hartlepool has a Conservative MP for the first time since the constituency was formed nearly 50 years ago when Jill Mortimair won the by-election.
Elections 2021 results: Conservatives Win Hartlepool from Labour in a by-election for the first time ever:
Ms Mortimer defeated her nearest rival, Labour’s Paul Williams, by 6,940 votes.
There were 16 candidates standing in the Hartlepool by-election, but Conservative Ms Mortimer won with 15,529 votes, while Labour’s Mr Williams got 8,589 votes.
Ms Mortimer described it as a “really historic” result, adding: “Not only that, But I am the first woman to be elected as an MP for this town.
She described her victory in the by-election as a “truly historic result and a crucial day.”
She also said:
I heard this over and over again on the doorstep and people have had enough and now through this result people have spoken and made it clear that it is time for a change.
Some tightening in the national polls, but this Hartlepool one looks very good for the Tories. Given Hartlepool will be one of the first results we get on Friday, it will shape the entire coverage of the results in England https://t.co/qpQsN7jUkm
— James Forsyth (@JGForsyth) May 4, 2021
The newly-elected MP said in her victory speech that Labour had taken people at Hartlepool for too long as trivial.
The result is a blow to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in his first electoral test since taking over the party.
But conservatives will see this as a sign that they are building on their advantages in traditional Labour heartlands in the 2019 general election.
Hartlepool by-election, Conservatives win a seat from Labour for the first time ever. Vote Share. pic.twitter.com/BbXLOXBwbg
— Fact News (@factnewsoffical) May 7, 2021
Sir Keir faced immediate calls from labour’s left to “change direction immediately” following the result.
It is also a major blow to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to try to revive his party’s fortunes after a general election defeat in 2019.
Sir Keir was warning that his party had a “mountain to climb” to hang on to Hartleone, but allies of his predecessor as leader Jeremy Corbyn are calling on him to change direction.
Former shadow home secretary Diana Abbott tweeted:
“Beating Labour in Hartleone. It is not possible to blame Jeremy Corbyn for this result. Labour won the seat twice under his leadership. Kare Starmer should think again about his strategy. “
Diana Abbott, who is close to former party leader Jeremy Corbyn, also said:
The result of The Hartlepool was a “Crushing defeat” for her party.
Crushing defeat for Labour in Hartlepool. Not possible to blame Jeremy Corbyn for this result. Labour won the seat twice under his leadership. Keir Starmer must think again about his strategy #HartlepoolByElection
— Diane Abbott MP (@HackneyAbbott) May 7, 2021
The left-wing Momentum group, which supports Mr Corbyn, said:
“Starmer’s strategy of isolating the left and replacing the meaningful policy with empty buzzwords has comprehensively failed.”
But Sir Keir’s allies say the defeat means the party has not changed enough under his leadership.
Former Hartleon MP Lord Mendelson said:
His talks with the town’s voters made it clear that Mr Corbyn was “still casting a very dark cloud over Labour” and that the party had more to do to put the era behind it.
However, allies of Sir Keir pushed back amid the criticism from Labour’s left-wing.
Shadow communities and local government secretary Steve Reed said:
There was no need to ditch Sir Keir as party leader after just over a year of him being at the helm.
The party’s shadow schools minister, Wes Streeting, also backed Sir Keir. He tweeted:
“Our leadership has changed for the better, but the voters aren’t convinced that Labour has to.”
“This is a huge and urgent task. Keir gets it. So must we.”
At the general election, the Brexit Party had taken a close third place in Hartlepool behind the Tories.
The Hartlepool by-election is one of a number of results expected over the coming days following “Super Thursday”, with voters going to the polls in England, Scotland and Wales.