Britain’s ruling Conservative Party won a new seat in parliament on Friday, pushing the Labor Party in the northern English city of Hartlepool to a landslide victory that tightens control over traditional opposition voting areas.
Conservative Jill Mortimer defeated the Labor candidate by 1
The overwhelming victory in the former port city gives Prime Minister Boris Johnson an even larger majority in parliament and increases pressure on Labor leader Cyrus Starmer, who has faced criticism for failing to deliver on his party’s resurgence after an election crash 2019
The triumph in Thursday’s vote boosted Johnson and his strategy during the COVID-19 crisis. The furor over funding for a lavish renovation of his Downing Street apartment had no apparent effect on the outcome.
“There is no hiding the fact that this is a disastrous result for Labor, absolutely disruptive,” Labor MP Steve Reed, a member of Starmer’s senior team, told the BBC.
“This tells us that the pace of change in the Labor Party has not been fast enough. We need to speed it up.”
Conservatives have described it as a historic day.
The by-elections, which are held outside the normal parliamentary election cycle, were prompted by the resignation of a Labor MP in March and are one of dozens of votes cast on Thursday.
The Labor has held Hartlepool for decades. Electoral analysts say this is the largest turnout for the ruling party in by-elections since World War II.
“It’s a pretty spectacular turnaround in a place that Labor really had to save and defend,” political professor Michael Trascher told Sky News.
Voters also elected local councils and parliaments in Scotland and Wales on Thursday, measuring support for Britain’s two main parties and, in the case of Scotland, the depth of support for its leading party’s drive for independence. Read more
The results of the other competitions will be published within a few days, as the limitations of COVID-19 have complicated the count. Early results show that Conservatives have won seats on English councils that look after local services.
Hartlepool’s result continues the trend set by Johnson in the 2019 parliamentary elections, when he struck a direct blow to the heart of the Labor, the Red Wall areas of the North and Central of England, to win a commanding majority in Parliament.
Labor tried to meet expectations for the vote, saying Thursday’s election would always be difficult during the coronavirus pandemic, which boosted support for the government over the rapid release of vaccines.
But the loss is painful for Starmer, who is struggling to increase his appeal to the electorate, despite harsh criticism of the Conservative government for its initially sluggish response to the COVID-19 crisis and possible conflicts of interest.
He accused Johnson and his party of friendly relations, questioning the funding of the prime minister’s apartment, which is being investigated by an election observer. Johnson says he paid for the repairs and followed all the rules.
Starmer tried to move his party to the center of the field after two defeats under the leadership of the left Jeremy Corbyn. But the defeat by Hartlepool provoked immediate criticism from some members of the party’s leftist faction.
“It is not possible to blame Jeremy Corbyn for this result,” said Corbyn’s ally Diane Abbott. “Keir Starmer needs to rethink his strategy.”
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