19:57 GMT20 June 2021
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    After Labour’s crushing by-election defeat in Hartlepool, formerly one of its safest seats, where a Conservative MP was elected for the first time in 62 years, opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer finds himself fending off awkward questions regarding the direction in which he is taking the party he leads.

    Dominic Cummings aimed an irate barrage of criticism at Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer today after the UK opposition party suffered a humiliating defeat in Hartlepool in the by-election.

    The Conservative party scored a historic win in the northern English town – a traditional Labour stronghold – as Britons went to the polls on Thursday to choose between candidates in the largest round of local elections in 50 years.

    The former Downing Street adviser to PM Boris Johnson used Twitter to berate the Labour Party leader for having ostensibly spent a year in charge of the opposition “without [delivering] a message to the country”.

    The main architect of Brexit slammed Labour’s loss of the seat it had held for half a century, as Conservative candidate Jill Mortimer outran her Labour party rival Paul Williams, receiving almost 7,000 more votes.

    Cummings' rambling diatribe insisted that if Labour had had a leader “focused on actual reality” the party would have stood a realistic chance of triumphing at the next general election. He added scathingly that this was unlikely to happen.

    ​Analysing Labour’s crushing loss, Cummings accused Starmer of being too focused on “media reality” as opposed to reality.

    Although he conceded that the opposition party’s recent toughened stance on violent crime, and law and order was a sign it was trying to change, Cummings advised Labour to focus more on the outstanding issues “month after month after month".

    ​Cummings also had a dig at his former boss, Boris Johnson, who fired him in 2020, while touting his own Vote Leave strategy, which many believe swung the 2019 general election for the Conservatives because people were fed up with delays over Brexit.

    He said both of the UK's main parties should take note of his Brexit masterplan. 

    Historic Loss/Win

    The Twitter rant came as Starmer offered no comment amid dire signs on Thursday that voters in England were deserting the party for the Tories, Liberal Democrats, and even the Green party.

    ​Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked the people of Hartlepool "for placing trust" in the Conservatives.

    Tory party co-chairman Amanda Milling called the result "historic".

    Hartlepool's new MP Jill Mortimer, in a speech during the vote count, summed up her amazing victory as demonstrating that “Labour have taken the people of Hartlepool for granted for too long."

    Starmer's allies have claimed that the by-election results show the need for modernisation.

    ​Labour MP Richard Burgon, former shadow justice secretary, described the defeat as having been "incredibly disappointing", adding on Twitter that Labour's leadership "needs to urgently change direction".

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    Tags:
    UK Conservative Party, Conservative Party, UK Labour Party, Labour party, Keir Starmer, Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson
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