THE Home Secretary joined the Conservative candidate in Hartlepool today ahead of next week's election.

Priti Patel and Jill Mortimer visited the town this afternoon and canvassed ahead of the by-election.

When asked why it had taken 10 years for Hartlepool to receive any benefits from the Conservative Party, Ms Patel said: "First of all you know have elected representatives in the area that can work with government. When you haven't got elected representatives that work with government, then of course that investment doesn't come.

"I've got to pay particular tribute to Ben Houchen [Tees Valley Mayor] who has been a tour de force basically working with myself and my colleagues across government. I remember campaigning for Ben in the election previously and again bringing that vision to light.

"He knows how to do the business cases, he knows how to present to government and he knows how to work with government, Jill will do exactly the same and that is what this is all about. As I've already said Conservative MPs, Conservative Police and Crime Commissioners, Conservative Mayors having them as our colleagues and working with us will help to deliver for the local people here."

When asked how confident Ms Patel was that the Conservatives would win the seat, she said: "First of all, Hartlepool has a fantastic candidate here in Jill. Jill is working incredibly hard and she's focusing on local issues, and I speak not just as Home Secretary but as a member of parliament myself, standing locally to represent an area you care about the issues for local people, for the issues that matter here.

"Now the fact of the matter is, we as a government are unapologetic about our desire to level up across the United Kingdom. That was part of our manifesto in 2019 - the fact that we want to and are investing more on job creation and infrastructure.

"The things that matter to people, communities, to help to spur on growth is absolutely vital - that effectively is the mission here and also the mission across many parts of the country, even from the Brexit Referendum campaign that I was on, I toured the country nationally.

"There are too many parts of the country that are behind - we want to end that and we want to level up and that's absolutely our mission at this point."