Labour crisis: Chaos for Starmer as MP quits Commons – major Red Wall by-election looms

Keir Starmer discusses being behind in the polls

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The vote will be the first by-election since Boris Johnson’s historic 2019 victory and the first real test Sir Keir Starmer has faced since becoming Leader of the Opposition. Labour has held the seat ever since its formation in 1974 but saw its popularity in the constituency collapse two years ago when many other northern seats elected a Conservative MP.

The party’s share of the vote dropped 15 percent in the 2019 election with the Tories’ pledge to “get Brexit done” winning over voters in the traditional Labour seat.

Hartlepool voted by 69.5 percent to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum.

A Labour spokesman confirmed Mr Hill had resigned “with immediate effect.”

His decision to stand down comes following sexual harassment allegations against him, which he denies.

Since the 2019 election, the Prime Minister has been eager to cement the trust of voters in the north of England who made up the so-called ‘Red Wall’ of traditional Labour constituencies to secure their votes in future general elections.

He has made his “levelling up” agenda, which aims to bring more opportunities to the north of England, central to his vision for Britain’s recovery from the pandemic.

The Conservatives are currently heavy favourites to win the by-election, with Ladbrokes offering odds of 1/2.

Meanwhile, a Labour victory is offered odds of 13/8.

The announcement of a by-election in the coming months follows Sir Keir and the Opposition party’s popularity plunging in recent days.

Research by Ipsos MORI released yesterday found if a general election was held tomorrow, the Conservatives would receive a 45 percent share of the vote, compared to 38 percent for Labour.

Ratings for whether Sir Keir has what it takes to be a good Prime Minister saw the leader’s popularity drop negative for the first time with 30 percent agreeing compared to 35 percent who disagreed.

The pollsters interviewed 1,009 adults by phone between March 5 and March 12.

A date for the Hartlepool by-election has not yet been set, but a could be held in just seven weeks time to coincide with the local elections taking place on May 6.

Research published yesterday by Savanta ComRes showed the date would favour the Tories, with support swinging towards the Conservatives as the Government’s jabs roll out has gathered pace.

And support for the Prime Minister’s party was particularly increasing among voters aged over 54 who are the most likely to have been vaccinated so far.

Lord Hayward, a Tory peer and polling expert, told a briefing for Westminster journalists hosted by Savanta ComRes the Tories had opened up a “six or seven per ent” lead over Labour since the beginning of December.

He said: “It is the older generations who have moved most markedly to the Conservatives, basically the cohort from 54 upwards.

“Now the significant thing is, they are the people who vote in local elections. So not only has that group moved towards the Conservatives, or has the population moved towards the Conservatives, but the people who’ve moved most towards the Conservatives are actually the people who vote generally.

“It is quite noticeable. It was first of all the age group from 64 upwards that moved.

“There’s some sign now that the 55-year-old and upwards are also moving.

“And interestingly enough, they are the people who have received their vaccinations, so there’s clearly an element of vaccine bounce. I think it goes hand in hand – I don’t think it’s chance.”

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