Labour announces candidate for Hartlepool by-election
Dr Paul Williams, NHS doctor and former MP for Stockton South, has been selected as Labour's candidate for the Hartlepool by-election
The by-election was triggered by Labour MP Mike Hill resigning following an investigation into sexual harassment.
Williams was the MP for Stockton South, but lost his seat to the Conservatives at the 2019 General Election.
Following the announcement, Williams has said: “The Tories have let Hartlepool down.
"Over the past decade of being in power they’ve taken from Hartlepool, taken police off the streets and taken services from our local hospital," he said.
“We don’t want people to have to go out of the town to get good jobs or go to hospital or to the shops.
"We want jobs and services right here in Hartlepool for local people.
"That’s what I’ll be fighting for as Hartlepool’s MP.”
Labour leader Keir Starmer has said: “Paul has already been keeping local people safe as a doctor during the Covid crisis – he will be a powerful voice for the town as its next MP.
"I can’t wait to campaign alongside him."
The news will be music to the Conservative party's ears, as Williams was a staunch remainer, and has already begun to delete old tweets calling for a second referendum.
Nearly 70 per cent of voters in Hartlepool voted leave, with the Brexit Party making major inroads during the 2019 General Election.
Responding to the selection Amanda Milling MP, Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party, said: "Labour’s candidate is a failed former MP who has already been rejected by the people of the North East.
"At the EU Referendum in 2016 Hartlepool voted 69.6 per cent to Leave. Paul Williams wanted to remain in the EU and worked to frustrate Brexit. He lost his seat in 2019 because he did not respect the views of the people he represented.
"Only the Conservatives got Brexit done and will deliver on the people’s priorities in Hartlepool."
The Conservatives won many former Labour safe seats at the last election, riding on the unpopularity of Jeremy Corbyn and the party's failure to honour the results of the 2016 referendum on membership of the European Union.
Labour are going to rely on Williams being a doctor and his experiences on the frontline during the pandemic, as well as the government's shortcomings.
The seat will be fiercely fought for, with both the Conservatives and Labour seeing it as a litmus test on whether their parties are appealing to Red Wall voters.
The election is likely to be held on 6 May 2021, although the date has not been formally confirmed.