Labour’s Mike Hill QUITS as Hartlepool MP to set up a Red Wall by-election

Labour’s Mike Hill quit as an MP today to set up a ‘Red Wall’ by-election that will be a bellweather for Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer‘s leaderships.

The Hartlepool MP, 57, resigned his Hartlepool seat after four years following reports that he used taxpayers’ money to fight a staff member’s claim of unfair dismissal, sexual assault and harassment. 

He retained the North East seat in December 2019 with a majority that had more than halved to 3,595 since 2017. 

But the Brexit Party’s Richard Tice took 10,000 votes at the last election, votes that would have given the Tories victory if they had gone to the Conservatives.   

The Tories will see the by-election as highly winnable and a sign of how well the Prime Minister’s ‘levelling-up agenda’ has caught the public imagination.

It was designed to help the Tories hold onto seats taken from Labour when Jeremy Corbyn led it to disaster in 2019. 

For Keir Starmer, the result will also show how well he has done to repair the damage done to Labour in its Northern heartlands by Mr Corbyn’s five years in charge.

Hartlepool has returned a Labour MP at every election since the seat was created in 1974, and the area last had a Tory MP in 1964. It was the seat of senior New Labour figure Peter Mandelson from 1992 to 2004.

Mike Hill with Jeremy Corbyn campaigning ahead of the 2019 general election, in which his majority was more than halved.

The Brexit Party's Richard Tice took 10,000 votes in Hartlepool at the last election, votes that would have given the Tories victory if they had gone to the Conservatives.

The Brexit Party’s Richard Tice took 10,000 votes in Hartlepool at the last election, votes that would have given the Tories victory if they had gone to the Conservatives.

A Labour spokeswoman today said; ‘Mike Hill has resigned as Member of Parliament for Hartlepool with immediate effect.’ 

Mr Hill had the whip removed in September 2019 when a woman, who used to work in the House of Commons, says she complained he sexually ‘harassed and victimised’ her. 

According to the Sunday Times, Mr Hill claimed £2,000 on parliamentary expenses for the excess on his employment liability policy as he looked to fight the allegations.

The allegations were reported to the Labour Party, Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Process and the Metropolitan Police.

Mr Hill, who denied all the allegations, had the whip restored the following month and was joined by Jeremy Corbyn on the campaign trail months later ahead of the general election. 

He faces an employment tribunal later this year and is still subject of a parliamentary investigation.  

Labour suffered its worst general election result since 1935 in December 2019 under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn as it lost 60 seats and sunk to just 202 MPs.

Boris Johnson secured a crushing 80-seat majority as he managed to secure victory in ‘Red Wall’ seats. They are areas previously seen as unshakable Labour heartlands in the North and Midlands who went blue over Brexit and Mr Corbyn’s hard Left agenda.

Bookmaker Coral has made the Tories odds-on favourites to win the by-election at 1-2, with Labour at 13-8 to retain the seat that was once held by Lord Peter Mandelson, a former cabinet minister and one of the architects of New Labour.

The bookies’ spokesman John Hill said: ‘Labour have won every election in Hartlepool since this seat was first contested in 1974, however, our betting suggests the Conservatives could break that stronghold in this by-election in what would be a huge blow for Keir Starmer.’

The forthcoming Hartlepool vote to elect a new MP will bring to an end the longest wait for a by-election on record.

On March 5, a total of 582 days passed since voters last went to the polls in a Westminster by-election – a gap that is unprecedented in post-war history.

The previous record was 581 days, which was the period of time between the Ogmore by-election on February 14 2002 and the Brent East by-election on September 18 2003.

Labour’s shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds did not comment on Mr Hill’s resignation when asked about it during a virtual event with the Reform think tank, instead focusing on the upcoming local elections in May.

‘We have a whole range of elections coming up very, very soon,’ the shadow chancellor told the event.

‘We have local elections and they don’t necessarily hit the headlines as much, but for their impacts on people’s living standards, they are absolutely critical.’

The Treasury confirmed that Mr Hill had been appointed Steward and Bailiff of the Three Hundreds of Chiltern – the archaic process that effectively resigns an MP. 

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