Leader says party considering moving HQ out of London to show it represents the whole country after May election defeats
The Conservatives inflicted a historic byelection defeat on Labour and regained the Tees Valley mayoralty by a landslide as Keir Starmer conceded his party had lost the trust of working people across England. The Labour leader, who called the local election results “bitterly disappointing”, is considering moving his party’s headquarters out of London to reflect Labour’s determination to show that it represents the whole country, party sources told the Guardian. He is also expected to reshuffle his top team and launch an across-the-board review of the party’s policies.
Amid tensions at the top of Labour as recriminations flew on Friday, the deputy leader, Angela Rayner, was said by allies to be frustrated at the tight control exercised by the leader’s office over campaign messaging and strategy. Some party aides had sought to blame Rayner, who is Labour’s national campaign coordinator, for the poor performance. The party had expected to lose in Hartlepool, but the Tories took the seat – for the first time since it was created – by a much larger than expected majority of almost 7,000. That represented a dramatic swing of 16% towards the Conservatives. The shadow communities secretary, Steve Reed, called the result “shattering”.
Ben Houchen later regained the Teesside mayoralty for Johnson’s party with a thumping majority, taking 72.7% of votes – three times as many as Labour. Houchen has promised local investment and new jobs as part of Johnson’s “levelling up” strategy. The Birmingham MP Khalid Mahmood, who recently resigned as a shadow defence minister, said the Hartlepool result reflected the fact Labour had left its traditional voters behind. He said he would no longer be willing to serve on the frontbench.