Tories fail to take crucial bellwether seat in Darlington

The seat was a key part of the Tories plans to make gains in the North East 

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Indy Politics

The Conservatives have failed to take the crucial bellwether seat of Darlington from Labour, dashing hopes of a serious majority for Theresa May

Jeremy Corbyn's party instead increased its majority by 100 in the seat, which was one of the Tories' key targets in the North East, where they were hoping to benefit from the Leave vote.

Political scientist John Curtice said: "Darlington was meant to be the seat that showed us Theresa May was heading for a majority and instead Labour have held it."

The 1am result comes after an exit poll showing the Conservatives falling short.

The exit poll is so far slightly underestimating the Conservative share in the North East of England, but appears to be more accurate in the rest of the UK.

At the local elections last month the Conservatives won a surprise victory in the Tees Valley mayoral election, which includes Darlington.

Across the North East the Conservatives and Labour both increased their vote share in the results so far, with both parties benefiting from the collapse of Ukip and increased turnout to differing degrees in different areas.