Both Johnson and Starmer traveled to the North Sea city with around 92,000 residents multiple times during the election campaign. It is also part of the European Union’s stronghold of opponents. In the 2016 Brexit referendum, nearly 70 percent of Hartlepool voters voted in favor of the UK’s exit from the European Union. Johnson was the spokesperson for the European Union’s opponents and later pushed through Brexit as head of government against massive domestic political resistance.
“This is a historic finding,” said Amanda Milling, vice chairwoman of the Conservative Party, in the first reaction. For Labor leader Keir Starmer, who has been in office for more than a year, the defeat is a major setback. The by-elections did not have a direct effect on the balance of power in London because the Conservatives in the House of Commons already enjoyed a comfortable majority; they remained in the hands of the opposition party. By-elections became necessary because incumbent Representative Mike Hill was forced to resign after allegations of sexual assault.