Boris Johnson’s Conservatives have taken Labour’s “red wall” stronghold seat of Hartlepool, winning the constituency for the first time since it was created almost 50 years ago.
Tory candidate Jill Mortimer won a stunning majority of almost 7,000 at the crucial by-election contest. Mr Johnson credited “bouncing back” from the Covid crisis for the early election successes.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has been urged to “change direction,” as he faces a furious backlash from the left. “Not possible to blame Jeremy Corbyn for this result,” said Diane Abbott, a close ally of the ex-leader.
In Scotland, the stakes could not be higher. SNP leader and first minister Nicola Sturgeon wants a mandate for an independence referendum – promising to hold a “legal” vote if she wins a majority at Holyrood.
Results from more local and mayoral contests, including ballots in West Midlands and Tees Valley, are expected on Friday. In London, mayor Sadiq Khan is expected to win re-election for a second term.