THE Tees Valley is a strange seismic region where two tectonic plates collide. It is where the rural Conservativism of North Yorkshire rubs up against the once-industrial Labour communities of Durham.

Both the big plates did as expected yesterday. In North Yorkshire, the county council turned an even deeper blue; in Durham, despite the ruling Labour group’s awkward controversies, the red party clung on.

But in the middle where the tectonic plates collided, there was an earthquake. The Tees Valley rejected its Labour credentials and turned to the Tories for its first metro-mayor.

How did the Conservatives do it?

Firstly, their candidate showed vision. Labour’s Sue Jeffrey clearly had a deep grasp of detail, but Ben Houchen had three big ideas – buying the airport, scrapping Cleveland Police and creating a new village – which showed he had grasped the transformational possibilities of the new role. The airport, in particular, grew wings, winning over floating voters who liked the positivism. Labour, by contrast, had no headline-grabbing response, only offering more of the same by pledging to carry on working with the owners Peel.

That contrast grew when Jeremy Corbyn came to launch the Labour campaign and said that the number one issue would be using subsidies to improve bus services. So while the Tories were offering the hope of a holiday on a sunny beach from your doorstep, Labour was offering a wait in a bus queue in the drizzle at the end of the road.

Of course, by offering big, Mr Houchen now has to deliver big. His airport plan has been branded impossible. His budget is £15m-a-year: how will he afford an airport worth hundreds of millions? And how will he work with the five Labour councils? Will he become the Barack Obama of Teesside, his big ideas stymied by opposing political forces?

The mayoral election was also won by Theresa May, who changed the mindset of the campaign. When the mayoral race began, Labour had six of the seven seats in the sub-region. It felt, even to the Tories, that they were a long way behind.

But Mrs May’s shock calling of the General Election changed the mathematical possibilities. The polls suddenly became real. In a month’s time, there could be four Conservative MPs along the Tees Valley – that thought gave the mayoral campaign a new complexion.

The imminent General Election also brought Mr Corbyn to the front of voters’ minds – in a month, he could be Prime Minister. This national picture prevented many from giving Labour their local votes. Even Labour canvassers on the doorsteps seem to have lost the will to defend his leadership.

So how do yesterday’s results translate to June 8’s general election?

Middlesbrough South, the Conservatives’ 21st most winnable seat with a Labour majority of 2,268 but no sitting MP, appears destined to change colour.

Darlington is 35th on the winnable list. Yesterday, the Darlington council area not only chose the Conservatives by 7,155 votes to 5,571 in the first round, but also by 1,708 votes to 1,343 in the second. But the council covers a bigger area than the constituency, and the constituency does not include Conservative-minded villages like Hurworth and Middleton St George. This may give Jenny Chapman a little consolation although it would be a brave man who placed his house on her being returned to the House.

The seismic waves ripple out beyond the Tees Valley earthquake to Bishop Auckland, the 46th most winnable seat for the Tories with a majority of 3,508. Here at the last election, 7,015 people voted Ukip, but now the national trend is for the Ukip vote to go almost completely to the Tories. This leaves Bishop, which includes places like Barnard Castle that feel as Conservative as any part of neighbouring North Yorkshire, tottering.

But is the Ukip voter in the Durham heartland different to elsewhere in the country? For instance, Ukip’s best chance is in Hartlepool where in the mayoral election, it came second. But 5,492 of the town’s second preferences went to Labour and 4,840 to the Conservatives, so perhaps the Ukip vote in the Durham heartland is crumbling back to Labour and not to the Tories.

And is Durham really ready yet to turn away from Labour? The Tories claim to be targeting Sedgefield (87th most vulnerable seat) and even Stockton North (105th). But in the county council elections, Labour was expected to lose 15 to 20 seats and ended up losing 20 seats. This was a bad result – particularly for the unfortunate Cllr Neil Foster who was the face that defended unpopular decisions like closure of the DLI Museum and who lost his Tudhoe seat. But Labour still comfortably retained control of the authority.

The earthquake has given the Tories a superb win. There is to be a month of aftershocks until the tectonic plates must come to a rest. By then, the political landscape will look very different.