Conservative co-chairman says Hartlepool by-election will be a 'tough battle' but Tories hope to build on nearby successes
A co-chairman of the Conservative Party has visited Hartlepool just days after Labour MP Mike Hill’s shock resignation as the Tories prepare for a tough by-election battle.
The Tories are yet to announce who will be their candidate in the upcoming by-election.
But they say the selection process is ongoing to find the person who will be “standing up for the people of Hartlepool”.
It has been more than 50 years since Hartlepool’s last Conservative MP with the town being held by Labour MPs since 1964.
On Thursday, March 18, the Labour Party announced Dr Paul Williams will contest the seat in the by-election.
The co-chairman of the Conservative Party, Amanda Milling, was joined by Conservative Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen as they took to the streets of Hartlepool on Saturday, March 20, ahead of the upcoming Tees Valley mayoral election and the by-election, which could also take place on Thursday, May 6.
Ms Milling said: “Hartlepool has been Labour for a very, very long time. This will be an incredibly tough battle particularly if you think about 2019 when we won seats across Tees Valley but we didn’t actually win Hartlepool so it is going to be tough.
"It’s been in Labour hands for such a long time but I think what we need to do is build on the successes of Ben Houchen, our mayor, who has been doing absolutely tremendous work for the region and also the other new conservative MPs who were elected in 2019.”
In December 2019, Conservative MPs were elected in a number of nearby constituencies including Sedgefield, Stockton South, Redcar and Bishop Auckland, which had previously been held by Labour.
Ben Houchen, who is standing for re-election in May, added: "Having foot soldiers in local MPs that you can send down to Westminster who can fight a cause for the local area with the Government is a really powerful thing and, in all honesty, I’ve never spoken to Mike Hill.
“I don’t have a relationship with him, I don’t have a good or a bad word to say about him but that disconnect has made it more difficult to do the things I want to do in Hartlepool.”