Hartlepool by-election: Tories dig deep into Labour territory – winning almost double its vote, and taking the seat for the first time

“Boris Johnson delivered a devastating hammer blow to Sir Keir Starmer today as the Tories romped to an historic victory in the Hartlepool by-election. Labour has held the seat since it was created back in the 1970s but Sir Keir was left humiliated as the Conservatives piled up a majority of nearly 7,000 – overturning the previous margin of 3,500. Jill Mortimer will now serve as the constituency’s MP in Westminster after she trounced Labour contender Paul Williams. ‘Labour have taken the people of Hartlepool for granted for too long… people have had enough,’ she said in her speech. The official announcement of the result was made just after 7am but Labour had already conceded defeat hours earlier, with shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon telling Sky News that ‘we are not close to winning this’.” – Daily Mail

  • Victory confirms Tories’ advance across working class England – FT
  • Brexit came into play – Daily Telegraph


  • Councils across the country switch from red to blue – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Live Blog: English election results. The Tories storm Hartlepool – gaining the seat with almost twice as many votes as Labour

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: Fleet wins the Conservative selection for the Chesham and Amersham by-election

…and Labour pledges further change as party faces grim results from yesterday’s local and mayoral elections

“Labour is “not yet changing fast enough” to win back the support of voters, the shadow communities secretary, Steve Reed, has said, as results began arriving in what looks likely to be a hugely disappointing election night for Keir Starmer. As well as losing a byelection in Hartlepool to the Conservatives, the first time the seat has not been held by Labour since it was created in 1974, early council results showed significant reverses for the party. Of the first 14 seats declared for Nuneaton and Bedworth in Warwickshire, the Conservatives took 13, winning back control of the council from Labour. In Redditch in Worcestershire, the first nine seats declared all went to the Conservatives, seven being taken from Labour, including Labour’s former council leader and deputy leader.” – The Guardian

  • ‘Desperate’ Starmer to axe Shadow Cabinet duds… – The Sun
  • …as Momentum mocks him after by-election wipeout – Daily Express
  • Leader vows to ‘carry the can’ for Labour humiliation but insists he won’t resign – The Sun
  • MPs turn on ‘lame duck’ boss… – Daily Express
  • …and say his team ‘lacks punch’ – The Times
  • Low personal ratings, rebellious MPs: Starmer may not fight the next election – Daily Telegraph


  • Khan expected to thump Tories in humiliating defeat in London Mayor race – The Sun
  • Curtice savages Labour’s post-Brexit strategy – Daily Express

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: A day to ponder the tale of a candidate in these elections, and ask ourselves if we take democracy for granted

Tom Harris: After Hartlepool, Starmer must ask himself some difficult questions

““The message from voters is clear and we have heard it,” said a spokesman. “Labour has not yet changed nearly enough for voters to place their trust in us. We understand that. We are listening. And we will now redouble our efforts.” The party would now “accelerate the programme of change in our party, to win back trust and faith of working people across Britain. People don’t want to hear excuses. Keir [Starmer] has said he will take responsibility for these results – and he will take responsibility for fixing it and changing the Labour Party for the better.” So here’s the first Difficult Question that needs answered: how do you “accelerate the programme of change in our party” when there is currently no sign of such a programme?” – Daily Telegraph

  • Loony Left rabble began Labour’s death spiral 40 years ago – Leo McKinstry, Daily Mail


  • Unsung heroes made these elections possible – Jonathan Carr-West, The Times

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: Perhaps one day I’ll get involved in an election again. In the meantime, here are my predictions for Super Thursday…

Johnson gears up for ‘do-or-die’ battle to save the Union

“Boris Johnson is gearing up for a ‘do or die’ battle to save the United Kingdom if Nicola Sturgeon storms to victory in the Scottish elections. Millions of Scots went to the polls yesterday for crunch Holyrood elections. The firebrand SNP boss is demanding another independence referendum if the SNP win a majority in the Scottish Parliament. Elections supremo Sir John Curtice said the SNP will get the largest number of seats but faced a “knife edge” battle to walk away with an outright majority. But Ms Sturgeon will definitely be re-elected as Scotland’s First Minister as she will be propped up in power by the pro indy Greens.” – The Sun

  • Scotland will begin later this morning after country’s ‘strangest election since devolution’ – Daily Mail
  • Polls show slump in support for Scottish independence – Daily Telegraph


  • How levelling-up can be more than a slogan – James Forsyth, The Times

>Yesterday: Henry Hill’s Red, White, and Blue column: Fury as Scottish Tories suggest SNP majority is a ‘guarantee’ of another referendum

‘Scallop wars’ loom as European Commission backs France in Jersey fishing row

“Brussels rallied behind France in its dispute with Jersey on Thursday as the fishermen behind a seven-hour blockade of the Channel island threatened to return and begin a fresh “scallop war” with Britain. Wading into the mounting political row, the European Commission accused Jersey of breaching the terms of Brexit trade deal and demanded the UK intervene to stop it “discriminating” against French vessels. It added that under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, signed last year, EU fishermen could not be subject to additional conditions and Jersey should have notified the bloc of any changes in advance. However, the intervention was dismissed by Downing Street, which insisted on Thursday night that the Crown Dependency had the “right to regulate fisheries in their waters”, and commanded the full backing of the Government.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Jersey fisherman is threatened by mob – Daily Mail
  • French trawlers threaten to blockade Calais to stop British goods arriving in the EU – The Sun
  • Johnson and Macron plan peace talks in Jersey fishing dispute – The Times
  • Bitter Bercow turns on UK over Jersey – Daily Express


  • Britain should be generous to the EU: a civil Brexit is still worth fighting for – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph

Let homeowners sell green electricity to their neighbours, says Dunne

“Homeowners should be allowed to create their own green electricity and sell it to their neighbours, the chair of the environment committee has told the government. Currently, those who create renewable energy using solar panels or hydroelectric dams have to sell it back to the grid, rather than using it to power their own homes or those of their neighbours. Philip Dunne MP, backbencher and chair of the Environment Audit Committee (EAC), has written to business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng asking him to cut the red tape and allow local communities to power themselves. He argued that allowing people to profit from green energy would cause more projects to spring up across the country, helping the UK to reach Net Zero.” – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Jonathan Werran in Think Tanks: Levelling up. A radical economic overhaul and zero carbon cannot be delivered from the centre.

Bereaved families angry at reports of UK plan to ban Troubles-era prosecutions

“Bereaved relatives and politicians on both sides of the Irish border have reacted angrily to reported plans by the UK government to ban future prosecutions relating to the Troubles. The ban will stop paramilitaries and members of the armed forces from being charged over incidents that occurred before the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement, except for gross human rights violations such as torture or war crimes, the Times and Daily Telegraph reported. The move, which could be announced in next week’s Queen’s speech, would signal the scrapping of a key mechanism agreed by the UK and Irish governments and main Northern Ireland parties in the 2014 Stormont House agreement, which included a new independent investigation unit to re-examine all unsolved killings.” – The Guardian

  • Troubles amnesty under fire from all sides in Ireland – The Times


  • There is a simpler solution to prosecutions than ‘truth and reconciliation’ – Richard Dannatt, Daily Telegraph

House of Commons to end Zoom debates and remote voting on June 21

“The House of Commons chamber will return to full capacity on June 21 under plans to end social distancing and remote voting. MPs will be allowed to sit next to each other but could be told to continue wearing masks. They could also be told not to shout or heckle as part of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The motion imposing social distancing and allowing remote participation is due to end on June 21, which is stage four of the government’s road map for lifting coronavirus restrictions. In the absence of a new motion MPs will be required to attend Commons proceedings in person. At present MPs can participate in debates via Zoom and vote by a proxy. Almost 600 of the 650 MPs vote by proxy, whereby a party whip votes on their behalf.” – The Times

Covid: End of face masks in the classroom as Johnson defies unions

“Boris Johnson will defy trade union pressure and announce on Monday that secondary school children will no longer have to wear face masks in class, The Telegraph understands. The Prime Minister will confirm that the Government guidance is changing from May 17, when England moves into stage three of the reopening roadmap, according to multiple senior Whitehall sources. Officials at the Department for Education are already drafting the new guidance, which will drop the recommendation that English secondary school pupils should wear face masks in class, while still encouraging their use in corridors. Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, told The Telegraph that the success of the vaccine rollout and the current low level of Covid cases in schools had paved the way for the move.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Holiday prices jump as Government prepares to unveil ‘green list’ – Daily Mail
  • Judge criticises Patel over policy for asylum seekers in pandemic – The Guardian

News in Brief:

  • Britain is right to stand firm against Macron’s Channel Island posturing – Henry Hill, CapX
  • Starmer has proved the Blairites wrong – Matt Zarb-Cousin, UnHerd
  • How much trouble is Starmer in? – Katy Balls, The Spectator
  • Iran’s hostage diplomacy – James Snell, The Critic