Keir Starmer grilled by host over 'tough contest' in Hartlepool
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Labour appears to be on course to lose a crucial Red Wall seat it has held since 1964 as voters prepare to elect a new MP for the northeast coastal town. Dr Paul Williams has spent the last few weeks campaigning to make Hartlepool a “better place to live” by declaring himself a “brilliant representative for our town”. However, the Conservative candidate Jill Mortimer disputed his claims as she criticised Dr Williams for supporting remaining in the EU despite nearly 70 percent of residents opting to leave the bloc five years ago.
Ms Mortimer told Express.co.uk: “For the first time in decades, residents have the chance to secure real change after 57 years of Labour MPs.
“Conservatives delivered Hartlepool’s Brexit vote, now we can deliver the change we need with more jobs, more apprenticeships, and more investment.
“The alternative is more of the same with a Labour candidate who voted to block Brexit six times when he was an MP.
“Labour can’t deliver the change Hartlepool really needs.”
Dr Williams, who previously represented the nearby constituency of Stockton South from 2017 to 2019, has now said the conditions in the town are very different to when he lost his neighbouring seat to the Tories in the 2019 election.
He said: “Then, it was all about Brexit.
“Now that’s over, it’s about making a success of where we are.
“Success to me looks like providing fantastic training to people so that employers want to come here, seeing more police on the streets of town, and better health services for the community.”
Back in 2016, he was quoted as saying that “no form of Brexit is better than the deal we already have as members of the European Union”.
Dr Williams also broke the Labour Party whip six times to support another referendum on the UK’s exit from the EU.
In 2018, he joined five other Labour MPs to break ranks with then-leader Jeremy Corbyn by suggesting a second Brexit vote.
Writing in the Independent, MPs Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle North), Bridget Phillipson (Houghton and Sunderland South), Phil Wilson (Sedgefield), Paul Williams (Stockton South), and Anna Turley (Redcar) said the North East’s export industry could be put at risk if a bad Brexit deal was agreed.
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However, a Hartlepool Labour spokesperson has since told Express.co.uk: “Dr Paul would be a brilliant representative for our town.
“He is a local NHS doctor who has been working on the frontline during the ongoing pandemic.
“Throughout the crisis he has been seeing coronavirus patients at Hartlepool hospital and his wife is a nurse at the local vaccination centre.
“His father was a teacher and his mum was a nurse, who inspired him to go into medicine.
“Paul will work with Labour’s committed team of local people standing for Council to make Hartlepool an even better place to live.”
Earlier this week, a poll was carried out by Survation for ITV’s Good Morning Britain between April 23 and 29, which showed Tories had a 17-point lead at 50 percent over Labour at 33 percent.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer appeared on the breakfast show, where he was asked about the poll by host Susanne Reid.
After reading the results, she asked him: “Why were things going so wrong?”
But Sir Keir did not appear to redeem his party’s crumbling reputation as he responded: “I’ve been to Hartlepool three times.”
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