The Tories have won a key mayoral race in the West Midlands in a fresh blow to Keir Starmer.
Ex-John Lewis boss Andy Street was re-elected to the post after defeating Labour’s Liam Byrne in the second round of the contest.
Mr Street won by 314,669 votes, to Mr Byrne’s 267,626 votes, boosting his majority from 2017, where he won by some 4,000 votes.
In his victory speech, he said the Government believed in levelling up and he would be “banging on their door” to make sure the region got its share.
The result gives the Tories a hat trick in the three key election battlegrounds, alongside the Hartlepool by-election and the Tees Valley mayoral race.
Labour fought a hard battle on the ground and Mr Byrne had expressed optimism about the party’s chances.
However Tory victory looked assured when Mr Street took nearly 49% of the vote in the first round.
Mr Street won the inaugural race in a knife-edge contest in 2017, coming at a high point in Theresa May’s premiership weeks before she lost her majority in the general election.
The West Midlands Combined Authority covers a large area, including Birmingham and the nearby cities of Wolverhampton and Coventry.
It was regarded as a key test for both parties as it includes a number of constituencies that went blue at the 2019 general election, like Birmingham Northfield, West Bromwich East, West Bromwich West, Dudley North, Wolverhampton North East, and Wolverhampton South West.
Labour endured a grim set of results on Friday after losing Hartlepool and the Tees Valley mayoral race to the Tories, as well as councillors across England.
But the party fared better on Saturday, winning mayoral races in North Tyneside and Salford, as well as snatching the West of England mayoralty from the Tories.
Andy Burnham was comfortably re-elected in Greater Manchester with 67% of the vote, while Steve Rotheram secured a second term in Liverpool City Region with 58%.
On Friday, voters in Liverpool elected Labour’s Joanne Anderson, who became the first black woman directly elected as mayor.