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Latest political news: Sir Keir Starmer begins damage control as Tories take 17-point poll lead in Hartlepool
Hartlepool by-election ‘are the Tories at stake’ Michel Barnier attacks EU vaccine ‘bureaucracy’ The main Red Wall battlegrounds to watch Tory staff angry this week a flat renovation after being denied pay raises Latest coronavirus news: British tourists could be welcomed to Balearic Islands this month Subscribe to the Telegraph for a month-long free trial Sir Keir Starmer has started his Damage limitation even before the ballot box opened, after a new poll put the Tories 17 points ahead in Hartlepool’s critical by-election. Just 48 hours before the polls open, Conservative candidate Jill Mortimer leads with 50%, while Labor hopeful Paul Williams has slipped nine points to 33%. The same poll showed a 4% increase in personal preference for Boris Johnson at Hartlepool, with Sir Keir Starmer sliding the same amount. The Labor leader told ITV’s GMB, which commissioned the poll, that he was “climbing this mountain” to reconnect with voters. When asked if he would resign if the Red Wall seat turned blue, he added: “I never thought, and I don’t think anyone realistically thought, we could move from a devastating defeat in 2019 and fix it all in a year and a half. “He told Radio 4’s Today show:” I hope we don’t lose Hartlepool … [but] I take full responsibility for the results, just as I take full responsibility for everything that happens in the Labor Party under my leadership. Follow the latest updates below.