Labour is facing a crucial by-election in it’s northern “red wall” seat of Hartlepool after the sitting MP quit.
Mike Hill is leaving the House of Commons with immediate effect.
The former trade union official faces an employment tribunal in May over an allegation of sexual harassment by a staff member.
His resignation will spark a hotly contested by-election in the North East seat, which Boris Johnson’s Tories will want to seize to firm up their hold on the former “red wall” of Labour seats in the north of England.
Hill was elected to Parliament in 2017 in the seat once held by former Minister and New Labour architect, Peter Mandelson.
Hill held onto his seat in the 2019 election with a majority of 3,595
But Labour saw a 14.8 per cent drop in its vote in the December election in which the Brexit Party polled 10,603 votes in the constituency.
The by-election will be the first electoral challenge faced by Keir Starmer since being elected leader of the party in April 2020.
The sitting party in a seat gets to choose the date of a by-election and Labour will be desperate to avoid the voter while Boris Johnson is enjoying a “vaccine bounce” in opinion polls.
Lisa Nandy, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, said: “I‘m absolutely determined that will go out and will fight for every single vote. Obviously I can’t comment on what’s happened with the decision of Mike Hill to step down except to say that there’s an ongoing investigation into that and it’s something that we take very seriously.”
Get all the top Scottish politics news sent straight to your Inbox by signing up to our Politics newsletter.
We cover Holyrood, Westminster and local councils, with a current focus on how our governments are handling the coronavirus pandemic.
To sign up, simply enter your email address into the pink box near the top of this article.
Alternatively, you can visit our newsletter sign up-centre. Once you are there, enter your email address and select Politics and any other Gist Vile newsletters that are of interest.
She added: “I genuinely believe that people in our communities are absolutely desperate for a country in which we support and reward those people who’ve got us through the last, most difficult year.
“When they look at issues like nurses pay they just cannot understand why the very people who are delivering the vaccine, who are keeping us safe, are being denied what they were promised from the government.
“We’re going to go out and fight for the country that we believe in, in Hartlepool and in other communities around the country.”