UK's Johnson hails electoral win as focus turns to Scotland

Boris Johnson's Conservative Party won an election for a new member of parliament in the northern English town of Hartlepool. AP

Boris Johnson's Conservative Party won an election for a new member of parliament in the northern English town of Hartlepool. AP

The first blow for Labour came in Hartlepool, where the Tories won the Westminster seat in a by-election.

Britain's ruling Conservative Party has snatched a historically left-wing seat from the opposition Labour party in a tense by-election in England.

In Sandwell there had not been a Tory councillor since 2015, but now there are nine after the party landed seats in Charlemont with Grove Vale, Friar Park and Great Bridge among other wards.

As the result was announced at the Mill House Leisure Centre - with the Tories winning by a majority of 6,940 votes - Dr Williams briefly congratulated his opponent and then promptly walked off stage, leaving the building while ignoring questions about the ignominious defeat.

Conservative candidate Jill Mortimer defeated Labour rival Paul Williams in the north east constituency by almost 7,000 votes during a by-election today (May 7).

Brexit was a critical factor in those victories and nearly 70 percent of Hartlepool's residents voted to leave the European Union (EU) in the 2016 referendum.

The by-election, which takes place outside the normal parliamentary election cycle, was triggered by the resignation of a Labour lawmaker in March and is one of the dozens of votes which took place on Thursday.

"It was always going to take longer than that".

Yet he acknowledged the party still had a "mountain to climb" after the devastating defeat under Jeremy Corbyn in the 2019 General Election.

In the Scottish elections, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon kept her seat in Glasgow Southside.

Diane Abbott, shadow home secretary under Corbyn, tweeted: "Keir Starmer must think again about his strategy".

"It tells us that the pace of change in the Labour Party has not been fast enough".

Reed said there had been "a breach of trust" between Labour and the electorate, that the party had been too inward looking.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme "we are one-nation Conservatives" and said the party was making gains in many different parts of the country.

As the first of 129 seats there declared Friday afternoon, there were no early upsets but tentative signs of some possible tactical voting by pro-union voters in the most competitive constituencies alongside high turnout.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservatives looked set for an upset victory in a northern opposition stronghold Friday, after Britain held its first major electoral test since Brexit and the coronavirus crisis. Counting has been delayed by Covid-19 restrictions.

The "Super Thursday" regional and local elections could reshape the United Kingdom as pro-independence forces in Scotland, where voting for the devolved parliament was also held, bid to break away.

The Conservatives were hopeful of holding on to the mayoralty in the bellwether West Midlands region and the industrial Tees Valley. The Labour government in Wales is also expected to hold onto power.

The overwhelming victory for an often-criticized governing party increases pressure on Labour leader Keir Starmer, who has struggled to revive his party's fortunes since a disastrous national election in 2019.

Results will cover local and mayoral elections across England and votes for the Scottish and Welsh parliaments.

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