THE Conservative party had hoped to snatch Stockton North from Labour, but it was not to be as Alex Cunningham actually increased his majority.

The seat was identified as a potential Tory target and was visited by Chancellor Philip Hammond in the run-up to the election.

But despite Conservative Mark Fletcher's best efforts, the seat stayed red and Mr Cunningham even increased his majority slightly to 8,715, gaining 24,304 votes - up from 19,436 in 2015.

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Labour was aware fairly early on in the night that any fears of a swing were unfounded.

It was thought to have been targeted by the Conservatives because there was a high proportion of 'leave' voters in last year's EU Referendum.

Mr Cunningham said: "For the first time ever we saw the Tories mount a campaign in Stockton North.

"They fought a hard campaign, people were telling me, and constituents had as many as five letters from Theresa May during the campaign urging them to vote Conservative."

Despite differences in the past with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, when he resigned his shadow ministerial role and called for Corbyn to resign, Mr Cunningham said: "Jeremy has run a brilliant campaign. He has come up with ideas which have appealed to the British public. He has surprised the whole country and probably the rest of the world too."

Mr Fletcher said after the result that he had enjoyed the campaign and was pleased to have clinched 15,589 votes, up from 11,069 two years ago. Overall voter turnout was 64.6 per cent, up five per cent on 2015.

Mr Fletcher said: "We have got 15,000 votes and I am really proud of what we did here.

"We have been to parts of the constituency that Labour has neglected for too long. I have never campaigned anywhere where people have been so friendly and open. It has been a wonderful five weeks and I hope I can return to Stockton North to campaign again in the future."

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