Local elections results LIVE: Hartlepool by-election victory due for Tories as Labour ‘give up’ on Red Wall seat

BORIS Johnson is on the brink of seizing Hartlepool from Labour this morning with another seismic election night set to further redraw Britain's political map.

The Tories are set to win the North East town for the first time in more than 50 years after Sir Keir Starmer's party conceded defeat.

And they've also made huge gains in key council areas, including Harlow in Essex and Nuneaton and Bedworth, in Warwickshire.

Clinching the two bellwether seats from Labour will provide an enormous mid-term boost to the PM.

But the results present an "existential" crisis for Sir Keir, and will throw further doubts over his future leadership of the left-wing party.

Welcome to The Sun's Election 2021 live blog, where you'll find all the latest results news and updates on the largest local vote in decades.

Approximately 48 million people were able to cast a vote for about 4,650 positions of power today – a much larger number than usual after much of the voting was delayed last year due to covid.

Polls closed at 10pm Thursday evening and a standard election would see votes counted overnight and declared the following day.

But some counts won't take place until Friday or even Saturday this year with coronavirus measures expected to slow the process down.

Some polling centres are being used for vaccinations or cannot facilitate social distancing.

We'll bring you everything you need to know to keep up to date as counting up and down the country begins.

Read our Local Elections 2021 live blog below for up to the minute updates…

  • Nicholas Gutteridge

    HARTLEPOOL RESULT 'EXPECTED AFTER 7AM'

    There are still three ballot boxes to count in Hartlepool meaning the result may not be declared until after 7am, the BBC reports.

    Pictures from the count, at the Mill House Leisure Centre, show ballot papers piling up for the candidates including Labour's Paul Williams and the Tory Jill Mortimer.

  • Nicholas Gutteridge

    LABOUR WILL 'LISTEN AND REDOUBLE EFFORTS' AFTER ROUT

    Party insiders say they always expected today's results to be "particularly difficult" for the party" but that "people don't want to hear excuses".

    A Labour source said: "The message from voters is clear and we have heard it.

    "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.
     
    “Labour must now accelerate the programme of change in our party, to win back the trust and faith of working people across Britain.
     
    “Keir 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.”

  • Nicholas Gutteridge

    HARRY COLE, SUN POLITICAL EDITOR

    Oh dear Kier. Labour couldn’t be off to worse start in the early council results.

    Big gains for the the Tories in Nuneaton and Bedworth as well as Harlow – 11 years into power – will send shivers down the spines of Labour strategists.

    These are exactly the sort of bellwether areas any party with a hope of forming a majority at a general election would need to be winning.

    Opposition leaders are meant to make gains at locals if they are on course for No10.

    But Starmer appears to not just be going backwards, but getting thumped. 

  • Nicholas Gutteridge

    CABINET MINISTER TURNS SCREW ON STARMER

    Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has said it would be "a disaster" for Sir Keir Starmer if Labour fails to win Hartlepool as predicted.

    He told Sky News: "It would be disastrous if Keir Starmer didn't just win, but win with a majority.

    "It's exceptionally rare to win a by-election when you're in government.

    "The idea the Conservatives would be able to win a seat that's been held for 40 to 50 years is remarkable.

    "If it's close, that's a really serious indictment of Keir Starmer.”

  • Nicholas Gutteridge

    TORY GAINS 'NOT DOWN TO VACCINE BOUNCE'

    Mo Hussein, a former Conservative adviser, said the party's success is "a continuation of the political reconfiguration of the country".

    He told the BBC: "What has struck a chord with people is this Government's promise of levelling up.

    "This was a test for the Government, in terms of whether that new support of really not Conservative voting people would stay with them.

    "It feels like it will. That message has chimed, people now want to see results, but I don't think it's right to put it down to a vaccine bounce."

    Sienna Rodgers, editor of the Labour List website, said the Hartlepool result will be "a blow to Keir Starmer".

    She said: "This is an existential issue for Labour. There are much deeper issues to discuss and often it seems the party is mired in factional infighting rather than addressing those issues."

  • Nicholas Gutteridge

    TORIES CELEBRATE KEY COUNCIL GAINS

    Conservative MPs have been hailing two big local council gains from Labour this morning.

    The Tories have taken Harlow, in Essex, and Nuneaton and Bedworth, Warwickshire, from Sir Keir Starmer's party.

    Harlow MP Robert Halfon said: "Harlow Council now under Conservative control for only the second time in the history of our town."

    Nuneaton MP Marcus Jones added: "A massive effort by all concerned. Thank you to everyone that supported the Conservative candidates."

  • John Hall

    LABOUR SOURCE THINKS PARTY HAS LOST HARTLEPOOL BY 5,000 TO 6,000 VOTES

    Here's what journalist Josh Haliday said:

  • John Hall

    SHAUN BAILEY: CAMPAIGNING FOR LONDON MAYOR HAS BEEN 'THE EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME'

    Conservative London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey tweeted: "Standing for mayor is the experience of a lifetime."

    Writing after polls closed at 10pm, he added: "So with polls now closed, I want to thank everyone who voted for me and campaigned with me.

    "Whatever the result, we gave a voice to Londoners who know our city needs a fresh start. We can all be proud.

    "See you on Saturday!"

  • John Hall

    SADIQ KHAN SAYS HE'S 'GRATEFUL' TO LONDONERS WHO LENT HIM THEIR VOTE

    As the polls closed last night at 10pm, Labour London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: "To the thousands of Labour activists & supporters who joined us on the most unique election campaign of my lifetime.

    "To the Londoners who came out to lend me your vote for the better and brighter future our city deserves.

    "Thank you. I truly am grateful."

  • John Hall

    LABOUR SENSE DEFEAT

    Labour has all but conceded defeat in the Hartlepool by-election as the Tories head for a historic victory

    Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said ‘it is pretty clear from the way that the ballots are landing that we are not close to winning this’.

    He added ‘we haven’t got over the line’.

    A loss will deliver a hammer blow to Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour leadership as the constituency which has been held by Labour since its was created in the 1970s.

    Vote counting is still underway and an official result still appears to be some way off – 5.30am at the earliest.

    But Tories at the count already believe they could win with a majority of several thousand while Labour sources said they feared they had lost ‘by miles’.

  • John Hall

    HARTLEPOOL TORIES ALREADY CELEBRATING

  • John Hall

    STARMER THANKS LABOUR PARTY MEMBERS FOR CAMPAIGNING

    Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has thanked Labour Party members for campaigning on behalf of the party.

    "Huge thank you to all the incredible Labour Party members who have given up their time to campaign in these elections," he tweeted.

    "You're an inspiration."

  • John Hall

    LABOUR SENSE DEFEAT

    Labour has all but conceded defeat in the Hartlepool by-election as the Tories head for a historic victory

    Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said 'it is pretty clear from the way that the ballots are landing that we are not close to winning this'.

    He added 'we haven't got over the line'.

    A loss will deliver a hammer blow to Sir Keir Starmer's Labour leadership as the constituency which has been held by Labour since its was created in the 1970s.

    Vote counting is still underway and an official result still appears to be some way off – 5.30am at the earliest.

    But Tories at the count already believe they could win with a majority of several thousand while Labour sources said they feared they had lost 'by miles'.

  • John Hall

    LABOUR MP MOCKS PARTY'S ATTEMPT TO CHANGE IMAGE

    In a sign of the discontent on the Labour left, MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle appeared to mock the party's attempts to change its image.

    He said: "Good to see valueless flag waving and suit wearing working so well… or not?"

    The comment is a reference to a leaked strategy document which suggested Labour must make "use of the flag, veterans, dressing smartly" to win back voters in red wall seats in the party's former industrial heartlands.

  • John Hall

    FIRST MINISTER MARK DRAKEFORD THANKS WELSH LABOUR VOTERS

    Following the closing of the polls in Wales, first minister Mark Drakeford said: "The votes of the people of Wales have been cast.

    "On behalf of Welsh Labour, I thank everyone who has voted for us, and all those who have participated in these elections – particularly the 16 and 17 year olds who have exercised their new right to vote for the first time.

    "In the coming days, the political make-up of the next Senedd will become clear. We await those results.

    "My party and I enter the next few days in the same spirit we have approached this campaign – ready to serve, ready to lead a jobs-first recovery, and ready to move Wales forward."

  • John Hall

    TORIES SAY ITS ‘LOOKING TOUGH IN HARTLEPOOL’

    The Conservatives also sought to play down expectations as polls closed.

    A Tory source said it was “looking tough in Hartlepool” as “Labour have flooded the area with activists”.

    Conservative staff had been encouraged to use spare time on Thursday evening to make calls for the candidate Jill Mortimer.

    The source said there was a “mixed picture in elections across the country” and suggested Labour had “done really well on their expectation management”.

  • John Hall

    TORIES AT BY-ELECTION CONFIDENT OF HARTLEPOOL WIN

    Tories at the by-election count were confident of victory in Hartlepool.

    One told the PA news agency that indications were they could have a majority of several thousand, and while the result might be close, they would win.

    Staff at the count have not yet begun to count the votes, which were still being verified.

  • John Hall

    TORY SOURCE PREDICTS HARTLEPOOL MAJORITY WILL BE IN THE THOUSANDS

    A Tory source at the Hartlepool by-election predicted the Conservative Party's majority would be in the thousands.

  • John Hall

    LABOUR SOURCE: WE WILL CONTINUE TO CHANGE IN ORDER TO WIN BACK THE TRUST OF WORKING PEOPLE

    A Labour source said: "These were always going to be tough elections for Labour.

    "Keir has always been honest about the mountain we must climb to rebuild trust to win the next general election.

    "Labour is listening and we will continue to change in order to win back the trust of working people in Britain and their communities."

    Shadow cabinet minister Thangam Debbonaire admitted the party's message had not been cutting through.

    "We've got a great team who cannot wait to be able to cut through more and I hear what people are saying, it's not cutting through, I get that," she told BBC's Question Time.

    "I think that's a lesson for the Labour Party that we're going to have to take into account."

  • John Hall

    TWO VOTERS IN GLASGOW NORTH TURNED AWAY 'BECAUSE BALLOT BOX WAS TOO FULL'

    During Thursday's polling, two voters in Glasgow North West claim they were temporarily turned away from a polling station because a ballot box was "too full".

    Nadeem Basharat, 37, said he and his partner Joanne Basharat, 34, went to Jordanhill Parish Church polling station at around 8.30pm and were told they could not cast their vote at the time. He said he was told ballot box 52 was too full and he was told to "come back by 10pm", by a steward who was "quite vague".

    He told the PA news agency: "We went home and waited and got there for about 9.30pm and managed to get in, ballot box 52 was still pretty full, like it had just been pushed down and not a new box. It looked like there were people there who didn't manage to vote first time around."

    A spokesman for Glasgow's returning officer said: "The sheer size of the regional paper meant some ballot boxes became full. We were able to deliver replacement boxes, but in this case some voters were asked to wait outside before voting.

    "The presiding officer is confident that all voters who were asked to wait were ultimately able to vote."

  • John Hall

    CONSERVATIVE PARTY GAINS NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY IN UK FROM LABOUR PARTY BY ONE VOTE

    Reporter Tom Barton posted on Twitter: "BREAKING: The leader of the Labour group on Northumberland County Council has lost her seat to the Conservatives.

    "By just one vote."

  • John Hall

    HARTLEPOOL TORIES ALREADY CELEBRATING

  • John Hall

    COUNTING SET TO BEGIN IN SCOTTISH CONSTITUENCIES

    Counts in more than half of Scotland's parliamentary constituencies are to begin later, as the country awaits the outcome of its strangest election since devolution.

    Votes in some 46 of the 73 constituency seats will be counted from about 9am on Friday, with the first results expected from noon.

    It is anticipated all 46 should be declared by Friday evening.

    Then, from about 9am on Saturday, the remaining 27 constituency seats will be counted, after which the regional seats will be allocated.

    Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a staggered tallying up of ballots for the 2021 Holyrood election, with all results expected to be declared by Saturday evening.

  • John Hall

    LABOUR SENSE DEFEAT

    Labour has all but conceded defeat in the Hartlepool by-election as the Tories head for a historic victory

    Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said 'it is pretty clear from the way that the ballots are landing that we are not close to winning this'.

    He added 'we haven't got over the line'.

    A loss will deliver a hammer blow to Sir Keir Starmer's Labour leadership as the constituency which has been held by Labour since its was created in the 1970s.

    Vote counting is still underway and an official result still appears to be some way off – 5.30am at the earliest.

    But Tories at the count already believe they could win with a majority of several thousand while Labour sources said they feared they had lost 'by miles'.

  • John Hall

    HOLYROOD’S STRANGEST – AND MOST IMPORTANT – ELECTION YET

    Voting in Scotland’s strangest election since devolution ended at 10pm last night, with the results expected in the next few days.

    Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the counting of votes for the 2021 Holyrood election will take place over a number of days, with all results expected to be declared by Saturday evening.

    Counting usually begins immediately after the polls close at 10pm and continues overnight, with results declared in the early hours.

    But the need for social distancing among count staff has meant votes will be tallied from Friday morning.

    This year’s election, while conducted under the constraints of coronavirus rules, is also considered to be one of the most important since the Scottish Parliament opened in 1999.

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