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British Conservatives win Hartlepool Parliament seat

LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson scored a notable political victory on Friday when his Conservative Party removed a seat in parliament from the opposition Labor Party, which has held it since the constituency was founded in the 1970s.

In a by-election in Hartlepool, north-east England, Conservative candidate Jill Mortimer easily defeated her rivals and cemented Mr Johnson’s previous successes in attracting voters in areas of the working class traditionally largely on the Labor side.

Better still for the prime minister, Thursday’s vote came after days of publicity work on allegations he violated electoral rules for funding an expensive home renovation.

This appeared to count little with voters in Hartlepool, an economically troubled coastal town, when the results were released on Friday morning after a night count.

Instead, following a successful vaccination program that Mr Johnson was able to take credit for, voters may have focused more on the gradual easing of Covid-19 restrictions in the UK.

Though not unexpected, the result underscored the extent to which Mr Johnson is rewriting the British electoral card and dealt a blow to Keir Starmer, Labor leader. Mr Starmer took over Jeremy Corbyn last year after Labour’s defeat in the December 2019 general election, its worst performance in more than 80 years.

This landslide election victory for the Conservatives in 2019 followed the crisis surrounding Britain’s exit from the European Union, and Mr Johnson scored in many traditional working-class communities with his appeal to voters to give him the power to “do Brexit” good results.

Although the UK has now completed its withdrawal from the European Union and the issue is fading a bit, the new Conservative victory suggests Mr Johnson remains popular in areas like Hartlepool, which voted for Brexit in a 2016 referendum.

These areas, collectively known as the “red walls” for being the heartland of the Labor Party, are being targeted by Mr Johnson, who has pledged to “improve” by bringing prosperity to the north and center Bringing England as well as areas that feel forgotten.

In fact, Labor would likely have lost the Hartlepool seat in the 2019 general election if the Brexit party, then led by Nigel Farage, hadn’t put up a candidate and won more than 10,000 votes in the pro-Brexit The Conservatives would have deterred voters from doing so.

Labor Legislator, elected at the time in Hartlepool, Mike Hill stepped down from his seat in Parliament in March on trial on a labor court over allegations of sexual harassment, which he denies. His departure prompted the vote on Thursday.

Labor’s defeat at Hartlepool could intensify the left’s attacks on Mr. Starmer, although he is unlikely to face serious trouble as there is no obvious alternative leader in sight.

The pandemic and focus on vaccination have made it difficult for the Labor leader to raise his profile, but critics say he lacks charisma and a compelling political vision.

And the loss of Hartlepool will be felt very clearly by Labor, as it has been held by the party since the establishment of the current constituency in 1974. Seat representatives include Peter Mandelson, a close ally of former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Also, Mr Starmer knows that if he is ever to become Prime Minister he will have to rebuild support in the North of England and the Midlands.

Voters voted in many of these key areas in local elections on Thursday, and many results are expected on Friday.

Elections were also held in Scotland on Thursday which could pose a greater threat to Mr Johnson. First Scottish Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who heads the independent Scottish National Party, is hoping for a strong performance that she can use to justify her call for a new referendum on whether Scotland should break away from the UK.

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