BORIS Johnson said that Hartlepool was ‘ready for change’ and the Conservatives represent that change after the decades of Labour representation.

He said: “It has been in Labour hands for a long time, 57 years, but my view is that it’s time for a change and a lot of people have spontaneously said that to me and I do feel that very strongly.”

Mr Johnson acknowledged that the North East has been a traditionally hostile place for the Conservatives but he said the party has changed in the last 20 years to better represent the North.

He said he didn’t believe that the South should be seen as the powerhouse of the country which is why his party is committed to ‘levelling up’.

He said: “There are a series of things coming together in the North East and I think Jill Mortimer would be absolutely fantastic to capitalise on that and get things done.”

We've put together a gallery of photos from Mr Johnson's visit