Brexit party leader Nigel Farage campaigns in Hartlepool, England, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. Hartlepool has elected lawmakers from the left-of-center Labour Party for more than half a century. But in 2016, almost 70% of voters here backed leaving the European Union. More than three years later, the U.K. is still an EU member, and loyalty to Labour has been eroded by frustration. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Neglected heartland seen as key to Brexit-dominated election

November 13, 2019 - 2:13 am

HARTLEPOOL, England (AP) — Political parties in Britain's Brexit-dominated December election are battling to win working-class former industrial towns, where voters could hold the key to the prime minister's office.

The English port town of Hartlepool is an example. People there have long felt ignored by politicians in far-off London.

Hartlepool has elected lawmakers from the left-of-center Labour Party for more than half a century. But in 2016, almost 70% of the town's voters backed leaving the European Union. More than three years later, the U.K. is still an EU member. And loyalty to Labour has been eroded by the gridlock.

Tom O'Grady is a lecturer in political science at University College London. He says Conservatives need to win seats like Hartlepool to compensate for the likely loss of pro-EU areas.

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