UK’s Conservative Party strike early blow in elections

LONDON — Britain’s governing Conservative Party has won a special election in the north of England town of Hartlepool, dealing a big blow to the main opposition Labour Party, which had held the parliamentary seat since its creation in 1974.

The victory for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s party, announced Friday morning, provides further evidence that the Conservatives are making ground in parts of the country that have been Labour strongholds for decades.

The results of Thursday’s election showed the Conservative candidate Jill Mortimer winning with 15,529 votes, or nearly 52% of the vote. The Labour candidate, Paul Williams, only received 8,589 votes, or around 29% of the vote.

Over the coming couple of days, results from an array of elections in Britain will be announced. On what was dubbed Super Thursday, around 50 million voters were eligible to take part in scores of elections, some of which had been postponed a year because of the pandemic that has left the U.K. with Europe’s largest coronavirus death toll.

At stake is the make-up of devolved governments in Scotland and Wales and the next mayors for England’s big cities, including London and Manchester. Thousands of council members, police commissioners and other local authorities are also seeking seats. No elections took place in Northern Ireland.

The election result that could have the biggest U.K-wide implications is Scotland, where the governing Scottish National Party is looking for a renewed mandate that could speed up the prospect of a second independence referendum.