THE Tory party will still have a presence in the Tees Valley after Simon Clarke took Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland from Labour.

With only three parties putting forward candidates, it was clear from very early on in the count that is was going to be a two-horse race between Mr Clarke and Labour's Tracy Harvey.

In the end there was little over 1,000 votes between the pair, with the Tory taking 23,643 votes compared to Ms Harvey's 22,623 while Liberal Democrat Chris Foote Wood trailing behind in a very distant third with only 1,354 votes.

The seat had been a key target of the Conservative party and Theresa May called into Guisborough on the campaign trail a week before the nation went to the polling booth.

Within minutes of the snap election being called, the sitting MP, Tom Blenkinsop, announced that he would be stepping down and took a swipe at party leader Jeremy Corbyn on the way out.

And despite Ms Harvey being closely connected to Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald, who is a big supporter of Mr Corbyn, she was unable to take advantage of the swell of support for the party leader.

Mr Clarke, who was harangued by an angry Momentum supporter just minutes after being elected, said it was clear that Corbyn's message had been rejected in the constituency.

He said: "It was an close result and I knew quite early on this evening that there wasn't going to be many votes in it. I'm really delighted that people have put their trust in me and my main responsibility is to represent all of the people in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland.

"This area voted massively in favour of Brexit and now I have to ensure that they get the best deal possible in the coming Brexit negotiations."

A clearly disappointed Ms Harvey, who is a Labour member of Middlesbrough Council, vowed to continue the fight.

The Labour Party lost a 2,000 vote majority in the constituency but their candidate remained optimistic that she would be able to deliver change in the area through her work as a councillor.

And despite losing his election deposit for the first time in more than 40 years of campaigning, Liberal Democrat Chris Foote Wood said it could almost be time to retire but couldn't completely rule at a tenth attempt at being elected as an MP.

The 76-year-old said: "We were squeezed between Labour and the Conservatives and that has clearly affected our vote. This is the first time I have lost my deposit and it is maybe time to retire but you can never say never in politics – so I could be back for one more time."