BORIS Johnson has seized Hartlepool from Labour this morning on another seismic election night that will further redraw Britain's political map.

The Tories romped home in the North East town, winning it for the first time in more than 50 years in a huge blow to Sir Keir Starmer.

They overturned Labour's majority of 3,595 from 2019 to take the seat by a massive margin of 6,940.

There were cheers as Conservative candidate Jill Mortimer was announced the winner with 15,529 votes – well ahead of Labour's Paul Williams on 8,589.

The PM's party has also made huge gains in key council areas, including Harlow in Essex and Nuneaton and Bedworth, in Warwickshire.

But the results present an "existential" crisis for Sir Keir, and will throw further doubts over his future leadership of the left-wing party.

Read our Local Elections 2021 live blog below for up to the minute updates…

  • Natasha Clark

    NICE ONE, JILL

    Lots of Labour folk wishing Jill Mortimer well and congratulating her for her win – classy and how politics should be done.

    Jill speaks to the media after her win this morning

     

  • Natasha Clark

    NOT JUST BREXIT

    Peter Mandelson says it's not all about leaving the EU, but a shift in social and cultural attitudes too.

    "It is quite possible that as a result of Brexit, people are learning new habits of voting, in North of England or elsewhere.

    "Not on one door did a single voter mention Brexit to me.

    "But Jeremy Corbyn is still casting a very dark cloud over Labour. He still gets them going."

    People on the doorstep have said people need to "sort themselves out".

  • Natasha Clark

    MANDY'S FURY

    Peter Mandelson, the former Labour MP under Tony Blair, said he was feeling "fury" at the way the party has gone in recent years.

    Jeremy Corbyn's supporters need to "grasp the scale" of the challenge and transformation of the entire party – or "we will be here again and again on mornings like this" he says.

    "We have not won a general election in 16 years, we have lost the last four, with 2019 a catastrophe.

    "The last 11 elections read… lose lose, lose, lose, Blair Blair, Blair, lose, lose, lose lose.

    "We need for once to learn the lessons of those victories as well as those defeats."

    He says he's spent days in Hartlepool campaigning for the party, and has been on the ground for weeks.

    "It was a strange by-election like no other."

    Covid and Corbyn were the two main reasons for the defeat, with a bit of Brexit thrown in too, he says.

    And a dollop of Tory money "thrown in".

  • Natasha Clark

    UNCLE JOHN WEIGHS IN

    Where's the big idea, mate?

    Labour's former Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, says that even more radical ideas are needed to really win.

    He hopes that he'll think hard about what went wrong over the coming hours and days.

    But he refuses to come out calling for Sir Keir to go, saying he needs to be given a chance.

  • Natasha Clark

    OUCH

    Another more left-wing MP aims his anger at Sir Keir…

  • Natasha Clark

    BUT HOW?

    All the Labour MPs out today say yes the party does need to change, but how?

    Steve Reed says Hartlepool says the party needs to show "humility" first before going out to the people to woo them.

    He adds: "They are angry with the Labour party, they feel in their hearts they are Labour, but it made them impossible to vote for.

    "We were not trusted to deliver the programme we put, they didn't trust us on the economy.

    "Once they realised it was associated with Labour, they didn't believe we could do it.

    "If people don't trust you to do what they say, they are not going to vote for you even if they like what you're talking about."

    "It's our problem we have not restored trust.

    "We know the issues they care about, but they are not trusting them about how we are able to do better.

    "This has been the worst government of my adult life – what does that say about us?"

  • Natasha Clark

    'VERY PAINFUL'

    Steve Reed is on Sky News now, he says Labour need to work even harder to show they are the party which can represent them.

    He said of the result: "It's not come out of nowhere" and pointed to a "breakdown of trust" under Jeremy Corbyn.

    He says today the leadership has changed but the leadership "haven't changed enough".

    Part of that is thanks to the pandemic, he argues, and the country has been focused on Covid instead.

    The Labour party "needs to change profoundly", he says.

    "Now is the time, this defeat gives us. The Labour party must change like never before.

    "We need to stop looking backwards.

    "We either reconnect with the British people… or we become irrelevant."

    But that doesn't need to mean another leader, he says, as "people like Keir".

  • Natasha Clark

    PAUL THANKS ALL

    And he's off to school…

  • Natasha Clark

    DON'T GO BACK

    There are going to be a lot of Labour MPs fighting this message today.

    Many of them have seen enough humiliation… and won't return to that message.

  • Natasha Clark

    STICK TO THE SCRIPT

    Sky have got hold of the Tory lines to take today.

    They're not commenting on the leadership of the Labour Party – best leave that to the opposition…

    But they want everyone to know Sir Keir Starmer needs to take some responsibility for it, aka, they can't just blame Jeremy Corbyn as the shadow cabinet flooded the seat.

  • Natasha Clark

    BLAME GAME

    Ex-Labour MPs are out to blame Corbyn for leaving them in this headache in the first place.

    Paul Wilson tells LBC it's still down to Sir Keir to prove the party has changed.

    How are they going to do that?

  • Natasha Clark

    FIGHT BACK

    Labour's shadow education minister, Wes Streeting comes out with a more moderate stance.

    He argues Labour has changed for the better, but the voters aren't yet convinced.

    It's not strategy, but a messaging issue, perhaps, he's suggested.

  • Natasha Clark

    NAP TIME FOR THE COUNTERS

    It's been a long night… time for a nap

     

  • Natasha Clark

    IN THE REEDS

    Steve Reed, shadow secretary for communities and local government said the Labour Party needs to "drive change harder and faster" to win back the "broken trust" of the public following their crushing defeat in the early hours of this morning.

    Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Reed said: "At this point you would hope that an opposition party would be winning, retaining seats like Hartlepool, and we manifestly haven't.

    "But talking to voters, one of the things they like about the change over the last year is we have now a leader that people see as a credible alternative prime minister – what they don't yet understand is how the party is changing and what our future offer will be…

    "The issue is not that we've changed too much, it's that we need to drive change harder and faster if we're going to win back the broken trust which has been broken over many, many years between too many of the British people and the Labour Party."

  • Natasha Clark

    LEFTIE KNIVES OUT

    The left-wing, grassroots Momentum group, which backed Jeremy Corbyn has described the Hartlepool by-election result as a "disaster".

    They're out for Sir Keir this morning too.

    Momentum co-chair Andrew Scattergood said: "A transformative socialist message has won in Hartlepool before, and it would have won again.

    "Starmer's strategy of isolating the left and replacing meaningful policy with empty buzzwords has comprehensively failed.

    "If he doesn't change direction, not only will he be out of a job – but the Labour Party may be out of government forever."

  • Natasha Clark

    WELCOME TO WESTMINSTER

    Health Sec Matt Hancock welcomes his newest colleague.

  • Natasha Clark

    FULL RESULTS

    For those of you keen to know the full breakdown of votes in the Hartlepool election, here you go…

     

  • Natasha Clark

    CHOICES, CHOICES

    Our deputy political editor Kate Ferguson points out Labour's key choices as they lick wounds today and refocus their efforts…

    Will they accept they are just the party of the cities and liberals?

    Or will they continue to fight for their old voter base in the hope they can win another general election?

  • Natasha Clark

    ANOTHER CORBYN-ALLY OUT

    Diane Abbott, a key figure in the party under Jeremy Corbyn, is also out and about this morning.

    She says it was a "crushing defeat" and urges the current boss to "think again about his strategy".

    Will they listen to him? We doubt it…

  • Natasha Clark

    DATA WATCH

    Here's some of the data from other by-elections over the years where the Conservatives have gained… it really puts that swing into perspective.

  • Natasha Clark

    TRULY HISTORIC

    It's easy to hear the party's telling us how fantastic they've done, and how the election results are historic.

    But this time it does look like it really is.

    Polls expert Matt tells us that it's the biggest percentage increase for the Governing party vote in a Westminster by-election – that's saying something.

  • Natasha Clark

    AND FOR BORIS?

    By Harry Cole

    FOR Boris Johnson this result was beyond even the wildest dreams of Tory number crunchers and proof once again the PM defies the Westminster bubble doomsayers like no other politician.

    It was clear the signs of victory were there when BoJo turned up in the seat three times in recent weeks, but after a brutal pandemic,  a tough run of  "sleaze" headlines and a very public spat with his former right hand man Dominic Cummings, this result will be a welcome reprieve and hard proof for Tory MPs: their boss is a still a winner.

    The real Boris will be pretty happy with tonight's resultCredit: PA
  • Natasha Clark

    SNAP REACTION

    Just in from our Political Editor, Harry Cole:

    Labour didn't just lose the Hartlepool by-election – they have been utterly spanked by the Tories.

    Sir Keir Starmer's defenders will point to the massive Brexit Party vote in 2019 appearing to shift wholesale to the Conservatives.

    But that cannot explain away why Labour's own vote was down a whopping 9 per cent since the last election.

    You will hear lots of MPs blaming Jeremy Corbyn years for their poor performance at the ballot box, but numbers do not lie: Sir Keir is doing performing worse with the voters than Jezzer ever managed.

    Labour's Paul Williams has lost the seat to the ToriesCredit: Reuters
  • Nicholas Gutteridge

    FEELING THE BLUES

    Shadow Communities Secretary Steve Reed says defeat in Hartlepool was "absolutely shattering" for Labour.

    But he insists the problem is not with Sir Keir Starmer, but rather the legacy left by ex leader Jeremy Corbyn.

    He tells the BBC: "Although we have started to change since the cataclysm of the last election that change clearly has not gone far enough to win back the trust of the voters, and we've just seen that in spades in Hartlepool.

    "People understand the leader has changed, they don't understand the party has changed because we haven't yet done enough to prove that."

    He says he expects results in the rest of the country to be "patchy" and that he received a "lot warmer" reaction from voters on doorsteps in areas like Sheffield, Nottingham, Bristol, and Milton Keynes.

  • Natasha Clark

    WHAT'S LEFT?

    As totally predicted, Labour's old left, which previously held the party under Jeremy Corbyn, are back to their old ways.

    Ex-Shadow Justice Sec Richard Burgon calls today's defeat "incredibly disappointing".

    He said the Labour leadership needs to "change direction" and go back to championing policies in old manifestos… which lost them the last election.

    Hmm.

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