'Disastrous' loss for Labour in Hartlepool by-election, as Conservatives win by large majority

The Conservatives have secured a thumping victory in the Hartlepool parliamentary by-election.

Jill Mortimer will be the town's new member of parliament, after defeating Labour's Paul Williams by a majority of 6,940 votes.

Hartlepool had been held by Labour since 1964, and since the current constituency was formed in 1974.

It's only the second time since 1982 that an opposition party has lost a by-election to a party in government.

Boris Johnson campaigning with Jill Mortimer in Hartlepool. Credit: PA Images

The by-election was called after the resignation of Labour's Mike Hill in March. He is accused of sexual harassment, which he denies. His majority was just over 3,500 at the general election in 2019.

Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer both made three visits to Hartlepool during a high-profile campaign.

A 30 ft inflatable of Boris Johnson appeared outside of the count in Hartlepool in the early hours of the morning.

It was erected by a group of local friends and business people that call themselves The Hartlepool Wombles. They say the stunt, which cost around £2000, wasn't in support of any political party, but marked "an historic change".

Giant inflatable of Boris Johnson in Hartlepool Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

There were 16 candidates overall:

  • Jill Mortimer (Conservatives) - 15,529

  • Dr Paul Williams (Labour) - 8,589

  • John Prescott (Reform UK) - 368

  • David Bettney (Social Democratic Party) - 104

  • Hilton Dawson (North East Party) - 163

  • The Incredible Flying Brick (Official Monster Raving Loony Party) - 108

  • Gemma Evans (Women's Equality Party) - 140

  • Rachel Featherstone (Green Party) - 358

  • Adam Gaines (Independent) - 126

  • Andy Hagon (Liberal Democrats) - 349

  • Steve Jack (Freedom Alliance) - 72

  • Chris Killick - 248

  • Samantha Lee (Independent) - 2,904

  • Claire Martin (Heritage Party) - 468

  • Thelma Walker (Northern Independence Party) - 250

  • Ralph Ward-Jackson (Independent) - 157

Turnout was 42.55%.

Analysis by our Political Correspondent Tom Sheldrick:

How big a deal is this result in Hartlepool?

On the one hand, it's worth pointing out that the Conservatives could and perhaps should have taken it in 2019, when the Brexit Party split the Leave vote, in a town where nearly 70% opted out of the EU. If you'd asked the Tories where they'd have wanted a by-election, Hartlepool may have been on the list.

On the other hand, this has been Labour territory for 57 years. It was Peter Mandelson's old stomping ground.

Speaking to people in Hartlepool over the last few weeks, it's clear many are simply fed up with Labour, a party they feel disconnected from.

Of course both local and national issues help make people's minds up.

Recent questions about Boris Johnson's conduct didn't seem to make too much of an impact in Hartlepool, where I think many voters want a slice of the pie his government have been handing out to neighbours on Teesside.

The Conservatives gained seven so-called 'Red Wall' seats in the North East from Jeremy Corbyn's Labour party at the 2019 general election.

Sir Keir Starmer has not been able to stem the bleeding.