The Conservatives scored a stunning success in Labour’s North East heartlands by winning the race to be the Tees Valley mayor.
Ben Houchen pulled off the shock victory over Labour’s Sue Jeffrey on a run-off, inflicting further pain on Jeremy Corbyn’s party.
The result provided further evidence of the Tories eating into traditional Labour support in an area which voted heavily to Leave in last year’s Brexit referendum.
A delighted Ben Houchen described it as a “political earthquake” in North East politics, after winning 51.1 per cent of the vote to 48.9 per cent for his rival, after the votes of defeated candidates had been transferred.
It will raise Conservative hopes of snatching seats such as Darlington and Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland in next month’s general election - and possibly even Tony Blair's old seat of Sedgefield.
Ms Jeffrey's defeat also makes it all-but certain that the entire crop of new city-region mayors will be male, because she is widely seen as the last plausible female winner.