Sir Keir Starmer's promise to the North East after mayoral election win: 'We will not let you down'

Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party takes part in a question and answer session with staff members as he visits Hitachi Rail
Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party takes part in a question and answer session with staff members as he visits Hitachi Rail -Credit:Getty Images

Sir Keir Starmer has promised that Labour will not let the North East down, after Kim McGuinness was named as the region’s new mayor.

Ms McGuinness ultimately claimed a comfortable victory in the historic election, finishing with more than 40% of the vote and around 60,000 votes clear of second-placed independent Jamie Driscoll. A poll last weekend had suggested that Mr Driscoll was in with a strong chance of embarrassing the party he quit last year, but there was never much doubt once counting began on Friday that Labour would come out on top.

After the result was declared in Sunderland, Sir Keir said: “This is a phenomenal result in the North East. Winning here shows that people have had enough of Conservative chaos and are ready for change.

“We have run a positive campaign here, focused on delivering for the region after years of the Tories taking the public for granted. Mayor Kim McGuinness will work tirelessly to deliver better transport, good quality homes, safer streets, and better opportunities for all. To everyone in the North East who put their trust in the Labour Party at this election, we will not let you down. It is time for change, and we will work hard to deliver it.”

Ms McGuinness was the winner in every part of the region – Northumberland, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Sunderland, South Tyneside, Gateshead, and Durham. Anything less than a victory for Ms McGuinness would have been a significant embarrassment for Labour, while the party came up short in its attempt to oust Tory mayor Ben Houchen in the Tees Valley.

But Labour did win the new York and North Yorkshire mayoral election too and won the Blackpool by-election with a massive swing. However, Mr Driscoll was deeply critical of Labour after falling short in his effort to cause what he called a political earthquake in the North East.

He said: “The story that is not going to get reported is that an independent without any Westminster machine has come a thundering second. I believe Britain should be run in the interest of the people who do the work and I would love for the Labour Party to be in that place – sadly it is not.

“What we are going to see later this year is a Labour government that is backing a two-child benefit cap, that has broken its promise to reopen the Leamside Line, and that might even let our councils go bust. I am going to be one of the people pushing to hold that government to account. We have built a terrific network now, we have more activists out than Labour did, because people are unhappy with Westminster politics.”

The sitting North of Tyne mayor, whose current job will now be abolished, was barred from standing in a Labour selection contest for the larger mayoral area last year amid a controversy surrounding an appearance he made on stage with film director Ken Loach.