Labour is facing a ‘three-way threat’ in Hartlepool, with a new Northern Independence Party mopping up support among younger people, according to reports.
Mike Hill’s resignation triggered a by-election last week, marking the first test of Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership in the so-called “red wall” of the party’s heartlands since taking over from Jeremy Corbyn last year.
Boris Johnson has made advances into traditional Labour territory in the North of England, Midlands and north Wales during the general election in December 2019, in which he secured a Conservative majority victory.
One of the seats taken as part of the host of red-to-blue turnovers in the North East was Dr Paul Williams’ former Stockton South seat, who has been put forward to contest the Hartlepool election for Labour.
Reform UK party leader Richard Tice has also threatened to run in the race, which could steal some votes from the Conservative camp.
But a new party fighting for independence for the North of England could cause Labour a headache, even making the election a three-way contest.
A friend close to Labour HQ told me they're now predicting a 3-way split in Hartlepool. Apparently, they think most 18 – 30-year-olds might back the Northern Independence Party— socialism or barbarism (@NotNihal) March 18, 2021
In a statement the party said: “The Northern Independence Party plans to stand a candidate in the forthcoming Hartlepool by-election. For too long the North has been taken for granted by Westminster elites.
“We believe that now is the time for the people of the North to break with a political system that has impoverished us for generations. The Labour Party has never represented the real interests of the North.
“We reject the idea that London-based lawyer Sir Keir Starmer knows the first thing about life in Hartlepool. We will win this seat in Hartlepool, for Hartlepool. This is the beginning of a new North.”