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Labour MP Mike Hill quits Commons sparking ‘Red Wall’ by-election
16 March 2021, 17:19
Mike Hill has quit as an MP, Labour has confirmed, triggering a by-election in Hartlepool.
Hill, 57, stood down from the seat he has held since 2017, and a party spokeswoman said: "Mike Hill has resigned as Member of Parliament for Hartlepool with immediate effect".
His resignation follows reports that he used taxpayers' money to fight a staff member's claim of unfair dismissal, sexual assault and harassment.
The former trade union official saw a 14.8% drop in his vote at the 2019 December snap election.
The Conservatives are now expected to take the opportunity to try and strengthen their grip on the former Labour stronghold, which they will want to seize to firm up their hold on the former "red wall”.
The seat has been long-held by Labour, and this marks the first test of Sir Keir Starmer's leadership since taking over from Jeremy Corbyn last year.
Hill held onto his seat at the election with a majority of 3,595 ahead of his Tory rival Stefan Houghton who gained 11,869 votes.
Former Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice took more than 10,000 votes. If those Brexit Party voters swing to the Conservatives then the seat could move into Tory control.
Hill appears to have deleted his Twitter account.
Hill was suspended by Labour in September 2019 over allegations he sexually harassed a woman.
But these allegations were later dropped and he was reinstated in time to contest the election.
At the time he said he "completely rejected" the allegations and it had been a "very difficult time" for his family, friends and staff.
According to the Sunday Times, Hill claimed £2,000 on parliamentary expenses for the excess on his employment liability policy.
The newspaper claimed he had failed to keep his name secret in the legal proceedings.