Conservatives must deliver for the North or be ousted in five years, says metro mayor Ben Houchen

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Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has warned the Conservative Party that it must deliver for the region or face being ousted from its new-found gains in the region in five years' time.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson picked up a number of seats in Teesside and the North East during the general election, including the constituency of Redcar.

Tees Valley metro mayor Ben Houchen

Tees Valley metro mayor Ben Houchen

Mr Houchen, standing for re-election in May, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I've warned newly elected Conservative colleagues and the central party that we have now got a strong Conservative Government, we've got lots of local Conservative MPs, the national eyes are on us for the first time in forever.

"There is no other place left to hide, there is nobody else to blame. We either deliver or the electorate will punish us in five years' time."

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The second Tees Valley mayoral election will be held on May 7, the same day as other local and metro mayor elections across the country. Sheffield City Region metro mayor Dan Jarvis, who was first elected in 2018, will face re-election in 2022.

Mr Houchen, whose victory in 2017 was seen as a surprise since Tees Valley has traditionally been seen as a Labour stronghold, will face opposition from Labour candidate Jessie Joe Jacobs, the founder of the charity A Way Out in Stockton.

In the 2019 General Election the Conservatives took nine Labour seats in Yorkshire and the Humber, as well as five in the Tees Valley.

Tony Blair's former Sedgefield seat, Redcar, which had a swing of more than 15 per cent, Darlington, Stockton South and Bishop Auckland were taken by the Tories.

Separately, Rebecca Long-Bailey has said she would take Labour in "completely different directions" to Jeremy Corbyn amid criticism that she is the continuity candidate in the leadership race.

The shadow business secretary dismissed claims the outgoing leader and his allies would still run the party if she won, and said it was "disrespectful" to say she is another version of Mr Corbyn.

In an interview with the Daily Mirror, Ms Long-Bailey, a frontrunner in the contest, said: "Insinuations have been made: 'Oh these men have been pulling strings in the background'.

"I've been proud to stand on the policy platform that we've had.

"That's not to say I'm not a completely different person from Jeremy because I am, and I'll be taking the party in completely different directions."

Four candidates remain in the race to replace Jeremy Corbyn, after Jess Phillips abandoned her bid as she admitted she would not be able to bring the party together after its "cataclysmic" election defeat.