The Conservatives have delivered a heavy blow to Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party in one of their north of England heartlands by winning the Tees Valley mayoral election on Friday 5 May.

Stockton councillor and sportswear business owner Ben Houchen, 30, beat Labour's Sue Jeffrey in the North Eastern region by more than 2,100 votes (48,578 versus 46,400).

Houchen, a former corporate solicitor, will oversee the combined authority, which includes the typically working-class, post-industrial Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton and Hartlepool and Darlington.

"Tees Valley has voted for strong and stable leadership both locally and nationally. What we have seen in the Tees Valley is a political earthquake, we've seen a massive trend towards the Conservatives," he said.

The surprise result is indicative of the Conservatives' performance in the local and metro-mayoral elections across the UK. In England, the Tories have currently recorded net council seat gains of +160, while Labour are on -67.

But it is not all bad new for Labour as Steve Rotheram, a former MP and parliamentary aide to Jeremy Corbyn, become the mayor for the Liverpool City Region.

"The vast majority of people in our area have also sent a very clear message to Theresa May," he said. "Prime minister, you may use Labour's language about a country that works for all, but how can it if you hit areas like ours with the hardest of cuts?

"You claim to be the party of working people and social justice. There's only one party for social justice and that's the Labour Party."

Former Labour minister Andy Burnham is also expected to become the first elected mayor for Greater Manchester. However, it is neck-and-neck in the West Midlands, where Tory candidate and ex-John Lewis boss Andy Street is hoping to beat Labour MEP Sion Simon.

The results come just five weeks before the general elections on 8 June. The latest opinion poll from YouGov, of more than 2,000 people between 2 and 3 May, gave the Tories a 19 point lead over Labour (48% versus 29%).

Ben Houchen
Ben Houchen Tees Valley combined authority