THE chair of The Brexit Party, who was standing as a candidate in the region, boasted that his party had “taken chunks from Labour votes” despite himself losing out to the opposition in Hartlepool.

Standing as candidate for the town, Richard Tice of The Brexit Party made the remarks just minutes after sitting Labour MP Mike Hill was re-elected into his post with a majority.

Mr Hill received 15,464 votes, more than 3,500 ahead of his Conservative rival, Stefan Houghton, who achieved 11,869 votes, which left Mr Tice trailing closely behind with 10,603 votes.

The Northern Echo:

As the exit polls came out, there was talk amongst the crowd that Hartlepool, which has remained under Labour control since the 1970s, could narrowly swing to a Conservative majority.

Mr Houghton, who before the results, told The Northern Echo: “Mike Hill could cling on, but clinging on is quite a statement,” said his message to residents had echoed the Conservatives’ pledge to “get Brexit done.”

The Northern Echo: Stefan Houghton at the count Picture: JIM SCOTTStefan Houghton at the count Picture: JIM SCOTT

Standing for his first time, Independent Joe Bousfield, who only secured 911 votes described his attempt as “explorative” and a means to establish himself in Hartlepool for future years to come.

At around 2.30am and after all 41,155 polling cards were counted, the Ceremonial Mayor of Hartlepool, Councillor Brenda Loynes revealed Mr Hill had managed to hold on to his seat.

The Northern Echo: Andrew Hagon said he had done everything he could Picture: JIM SCOTTAndrew Hagon said he had done everything he could Picture: JIM SCOTT

The Lib Dems' Andrew Hagon received 1,696 votes, while the Socialist Labour Party's Kevin Cranney managed 494 votes.

Speaking after his victory, Mr Hill said his campaign had been “difficult,” but voting had been influenced by Brexit.

He said: “It’s been a hard slog there’s no doubt about it. You can see that with what’s been happening nationally, from my perspective the Labour Party has worked very hard.

“We’ve tried to get our message across, I think we did but clearly this was a Brexit election and that was one issue that dominated and obviously influenced people’s voting patterns.

“We were the number one targets for the Brexit Party, they’ve thrown incalculable amounts of money into the seat.”

When asked about the loss of his party’s seats across the North-East including Darlington, Bishop Auckland and Redcar, Mr Hill said: “I feel gutted for my colleagues, for those individuals who are very talented people, I feel for them and I’ll be reaching out for them.

“We’re going to have to sit down and look at what’s happening and see how we can turn it around, so we don’t have the same situation in five years’ time.”

The Northern Echo:

Mr Tice, who only recently had to condemn racist remarks made by Brexit Party councillors, said the party’s decision to not stand in seats where they were likely to go Conservative had been “utterly vindicated.”

At Mill House Leisure Centre in Hartlepool, he said: “The Brexit Party across the whole of the North has had a massive impact, our decision not to stand against the Conservatives has been utterly vindicated, we put country before party and as a result we've taken chunks out of Labour votes across the North other parts of the regions.

The Northern Echo:

Mr Tice said the Brexit Party had ensured Brexit would take place, allowing The Conservative Party to “move forward and hoover up” remaining seats.

The Northern Echo:

He said: “Back in the spring the Tories had completely failed to deliver Brexit, if it wasn’t for us we’d now be in the middle of a second referendum campaign.

“The country now has certainty, stability, people can invest domestically, businesses can invest. This is excellent news for the country, it’s not about individuals or the Brexit Party.

“This proves that we have changed politics in this country, because Brexit is now going to happen.”

The voter turnout for this election in Hartlepool was 58.8 percent, made up from 41,155 votes.