Elbow bumps and thumbs up as Prime Minister Johnson visits Hartlepool

Boris Johnson has said the Conservatives face a "tough fight" to win the Hartlepool by-election.

During a rainy visit to a seafront fish and chip restaurant in the constituency, the Prime Minister was asked if he was concerned whether interest in his childcare arrangements or his flat refurbishment might affect the vote.

He hoped people would focus on the "massive opportunities" the Tories had brought by delivering on Brexit - a policy strongly backed by local people.

Credit: PA

The Prime Minister, asked if he was worried he might have a negative effect on the election, said: "I think that people will focus on the issues that matter to them.

"That is the vaccine rollout, the chances of our economy bouncing back really strongly in the second half of this year, what we are doing to make sure that happens."

Mr Johnson spoke to diners at the Surfside Fish Bar and Restaurant who were braving the elements to eat or sip coffees outside as the rain started to fall at lunchtime.

The popular cafe is in Seaton Carew and overlooks the North Sea close to the spot where canoe man John Darwin faked his own death in 2002.

Credit: PA

There are 16 candidates running to be the next member of parliament for Hartlepool.

The by-election is being held on 6 May, after Mike Hill resigned as the town's MP last month. He is accused of sexual harassment, which he denies.

Here are the candidates with the description given for each:

  • David Bettney - Social Democratic Party

  • The Incredible Flying Brick - The Official Monster Raving Loony Party

  • Hilton Dawson - The North East Party

  • Gemma Evans - Women's Equality Party

  • Rachel Featherstone - The Green Party candidate

  • Adam Gaines - Independent

  • Andrew Hagon - Liberal Democrat

  • Steve Jack - Freedom Alliance. No Lockdowns. No Curfews.

  • Chris Killick - [no description]

  • Sam Lee - Independent

  • Claire Martin - Heritage Party

  • Jill Mortimer - Conservative Party Candidate

  • John Prescott - Reform UK

  • Thelma Walker - Independent

  • W. Ralph Ward-Jackson - Independent

  • Paul Williams - Labour Party

While talking to people on Teesside, The Prime Minister said there is a "good chance" the one-metre plus social distancing policy will be end in England on 21 June.

The prime minister has already laid out a roadmap for ending Covid restrictions in the summer but there were suggestions some rules may need to remain for longer.

“As things stand, with the vaccine rollout going the way that it is – we have done 50 million jabs as I speak to you today, quarter of the adult population, one in four have had two jabs," the prime minister said while campaigning in Hartlepool.

“You are seeing the results of that really starting to show up in the epidemiology. I think that we will be able to go ahead, feels like May 17 is going to be good.

“But it also looks to me as though June 21 we’ll be able to say social distancing as we currently have to do it, the one-metre plus, I think we have got a good chance of being able to dispense with the one-metre plus from June 21.

“That is still dependent on the data...but that’s what it feels like to me right now.”

The one-metre plus rule was put in place last June to allow people to meet up as long as other measures were also adhered to.

Last month, Government scientific advisers said the public should be able to remove face masks over the summer as vaccines do the heavy lifting in controlling Covid-19 – but they cautioned that masks and possibly other measures may be needed next autumn and winter if cases surge.