The Conservatives look to have pulled off a string of strong results in the 2021 local elections, according to early results.
With 14 of 143 councils declared, the party has increased their number of councillors by 45 while Labour saw 47 of their own slashed.
Lewis Goodall, the BBC’s policy editor, remarked that “council after council” was showing very strong results for the Tories.
Council after council showing very strong results for the Tories. Loads more to come. More updates to come on Breakfast! pic.twitter.com/DsZ9yFVHtm— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) May 7, 2021
It comes after Jill Mortimer won the Hartlepool by-election by a landslide.
The Leave-supporting North East constituency went blue for the first time in its 47-year-old history, as Boris Johnson demolished another brick in Labour’s so-called “red wall”.
Members of Hartlepool’s business community erected a 30-foot inflatable model of Boris Johnson outside the count for the results.
The 20-strong group, known as the Hartlepool Wombles, said the 4am stunt was not a political statement but rather heralded a historic change in the town.
One of the group, who asked not to be named, said: “We are doing this to mark a historic change in Hartlepool.
“I’m not particularly political, in fact I didn’t even vote.
“I think this shows Hartlepool in a positive light and the town has always had a quirky personality.”
Labour’s shadow local government secretary Steve Reed says the result is “absolutely shattering” to Hartlepool, where he thinks the Brexit Party vote from 2019 election “collapsed towards the Conservatives”.
He says Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer “never made any bones about the fact we had an electoral mountain to climb” after the party’s poor result at that general election.
“It was always going to take more than a year to make this change,” he tells BBC News.
The Tories have done this by absorbing much of the Brexit Party vote and probably have a few Labour switchers as well. 16% swing from Conservative to Labour. Devastating for the party. pic.twitter.com/8w9RyMNDhV— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) May 7, 2021
But he adds: “People understand we have a new leader, people do not understand that the party has changed, because it frankly hasn’t changed enough”.
“We need to drive change harder and faster if we’re going to win back the trust that has been broken over many, many years between too many British people and the Labour Party”.