The first-time Tory win in Hartlepool has been branded a “truly historic result” and an “absolutely shattering” loss for Labour.
The Conservative by-election victory saw the party take the constituency for the first time since it was created almost 50 years ago.
Jill Mortimer’s election to Parliament adds another red wall seat to the list of Tory wins in traditional Labour areas.
People “taken for granted for too long”
In a result which was widely forecast by pollsters, the North Yorkshire farmer beat Labour candidate Dr Paul Williams, a GP and former MP for Stockton South.
The newly elected MP described it as a “momentous day” and claimed Labour had taken people in the area “for granted for too long”
Giving a victory speech after the result, she said she was “immensely proud to be the first Conservative MP in Hartlepool for 57 years”.
She added: “Not only that, I am the first woman ever to be elected as MP for this town.
“It is a truly historic result and a momentous day.
“Labour have taken people in Hartlepool for granted for too long.
“I heard this time and time again on the doorstep and people have had enough and now, through this result, the people have spoken and have made it clear it is time for change.”
She pledged to work “tirelessly” for people in the constituency, adding: “I will not let you down, I will not fail you.”
Boris Johnson had predicted his party would face a “tough fight” to win the seat, which had been a Labour stronghold since it was created in 1974, while Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer previously acknowledged the party had a “mountain to climb” to rebuild voters’ trust.
On Friday morning it was announced that Ms Mortimer won the by-election with more than half of the votes cast, and a swing from Labour of almost 16%.
Her 15,529 votes represented 51.88% of those cast, and a majority of 6,940 over her Labour rival.
Steve Reed, shadow secretary for communities and local government, said the defeat was “absolutely shattering”.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, he said: “I congratulate Jill Mortimer on her victory, but it was for me, as a Labour Party member, absolutely shattering to see a Conservative MP elected in a place like Hartlepool after nearly 50 years.
“I think what this shows is that, although we have started to change since the cataclysm of the last general election, that change has clearly not gone far enough in order to win back the trust of the voters, and we’ve just seen that in spades in Hartlepool.”
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
“Not possible to blame Jeremy Corbyn for the result”
Labour MP Diane Abbott, who was shadow home secretary during Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, branded it a “crushing defeat for Labour” and urged Sir Keir to rethink his strategy.
She tweeted: “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.”
Both the Prime Minister and Sir Keir visited the Hartlepool constituency three times during the campaign.
Labour’s Mike Hill won the 2019 election with a majority of 3,595 – while other bricks in the red wall fell – but he stepped down in March following claims of sexual harassment and victimisation.
Labour first won the predecessor seat, The Hartlepools, in 1964. The current constituency was created in 1974.
Here’s some of the early reaction on social media:
The best thing about winning Hartlepool with a 7,000 majority is that I now have concrete proof that people don't give a shit how corrupt I am.— Parody Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson_MP) May 7, 2021
So well done Hartlepool.#ElectionResults2021
Incredibly disappointing defeat in Hartlepool.— Richard Burgon MP (@RichardBurgon) May 7, 2021
We are going backwards in areas we need to be winning.
Labour's leadership needs to urgently change direction.
It should start by championing the popular policies in our recent manifestos – backed by a large majority of voters.
Terrible result in Hartlepool. Complete change of strategy needed if anti-Tory vote ever to be mobilised together to rid us of this careless, corrupt, incompetent Government https://t.co/K91yWp97JM— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) May 7, 2021
Utterly remarkable that a party in power since 2010 can win in a place like Hartlepool because people want ‘change’.— Anand Menon (@anandMenon1) May 7, 2021
Starmer and his team need to take responsibility and stop passing the buck.— Owen Jones ? (@OwenJones84) May 6, 2021
Labour had a narrower majority in Hartlepool in 2015 than it did in 2019.
Just 3 and a half years ago, over 50% in Hartlepool voted Labour – the highest since 2001.
If they lose it, *it is on them*. https://t.co/qF27NMoCnF
The fact that many people on the ‘left’ seem to be celebrating the Hartlepool result as enthusiastically as the Tories is another major problem that Starmer didn’t cause but somehow has to fix.— James O'Brien (@mrjamesob) May 7, 2021
Labour source saying tonight in response to the Hartlepool loss that they have not nearly changed enough from 2019 in order to regain trust. They’ve gone from winning the seat to losing it. Please stop treating people like they are thick.— Liam Young (@liamyoung) May 7, 2021
Jill Mortimer winning Tory in Hartlepool has called her victory “a vote for change”. That's Jill Mortimer… of the Conservative Party that has been in charge for eleven years.— Otto English (@Otto_English) May 7, 2021
The number of so-called journalists saying the Tories are winning in places like Hartlepool because "they got Brexit done", when the government had to literally deploy the f***** Navy yesterday over Brexit!— Femi? (@Femi_Sorry) May 7, 2021
STOP PRESENTING PROPAGANDA AS FACT!#LocalElectionResults