Jill Mortimer: who is Hartlepool’s new Conservative MP, where does she live – and is she a barrister?

Mortimer’s election over Labour candidate Paul Williams serves a blow to the party – but just who is she, and what poltical experience does she have?

In a stunning Hartlepool by-election result, the Conservatives took the seat – Labour-held since it was formed in 1974 – with a majority of 6,940 votes.

The victory has been described as a crushing blow to party leader Sir Keir Starmer’s hopes of leading a political revival, as another brick in the party’s once impregnable “red wall” crumbled.

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In a major boost for Boris Johnson, Conservative candidate Jill Mortimer gained 15,529 votes – more than half the total cast – with Labour’s Dr Paul Williams, trailing on 8,589.

(Photos: Getty Images)

The result was in part due to voters who backed the Brexit Party in 2019 – when it took a quarter of the vote – switching to the Conservatives.

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Hartlepool by-election 2021: Conservatives secure a big majority to beat Labour ...

But just who is Mortimer, what are her policies, and what is her political history?

Here is everything you need to know about her.

Jill Mortimer's official website - unfinished at the time of writing this article - describes her as a 'farmer and business woman' (Photo: jillmortimer.org.uk)

Who is Jill Mortimer?

The ‘About Me' section on Jill Mortimer’s website (incomplete at the time of writing), describes Mortimer as “a farmer and business woman. I've”

In an article for The Spectator, Independent Hartlepool candidate Ralph Ward-Jackson described Mortimer as being “in her mid-fifties”, and only a “trainee barrister” who has “never held a proper job.”

Her status as a trainee barrister is backed up by a previous register of interests, where Mortimer lists herself as “Trainee Barrister/Student”, with a previous role as an Office Assistant at Coles Law (yes, that is ‘Coleslaw’).

Billed as a successful business woman with legal expertise ahead of the vote, according to Companies House, Mortimer has never been a Company Director.

According to NorthEastBylines, she has three children by her first husband, Marcus Killick.

What has she said about her win?

In her victory speech, Mortimer said the result – overturning a Labour majority of more than 3,500 at the 2019 general election – was “truly historic”.

“Labour have taken people in Hartlepool for granted for too long. I heard this time and time again on the doorstep,” she said.

Speaking to reporters following the count, Mortimer said: “I’m just overwhelmed by the support of the people of Hartlepool.

“It confirms what I heard on the doorstep – they just want positive change, and that’s what we’re going to bring them. This town needs to be regenerated, it has been in decline for a long time. There is so much to do. I’ve got a great big long list and I’ll be on it.”

Labour’s defeated Hartlepool candidate Dr Paul Williams tweeted: “A massive thank you to everyone in Hartlepool who voted for me, and to the incredible Labour volunteers who worked so hard."

What is her political history?

Before her election as MP for Hartlepool, Mortimer was a local councillor in Hambleton, North Yorkshire - more than 30 miles from the town she now represents.

She was elected as the councillor for Raskelf and White Horse Ward on Hambleton District Council in North Yorkshire in May 2019, pipping Green Party candidate John Law to the post by just 164 votes.

During her time on the Council, she was present for 22 of the 27 scheduled meetings of which she was expected to attend. There are no declarations of interest on record.

She was also part of the Council’s Scrutiny Committee, and served as a representative of the Thirsk and Sowerby Swimming Baths Charity.

Seven months later, as part of the December 2019 general election, she stood as the Conservative candidate for Leeds East, but lost out to Labour’s Richard Burgon by more than 5,500 votes.

As her post in Hartlepool is Mortimer’s first experience as an MP, she does not yet have a voting record within the House of Commons.

Does she live in Hartlepool?

Speaking to Teesside Live, Mortimer said Hartlepool was not a place she had spent a lot of time, “but it will be”.

Ahead of the by-election vote, the Yorkshire Post reported Mortimer as living in Knayton, a small North Yorkshire village near Thirsk, and approximately a 40-minute drive from Hartlepool.

According to Hambleton District Council records, Mortimer owns Woundales Farm in Knayton, on which she holds sporting rights which permit her to allow fishing, hunting and shooting on the land.

According to NorthEastBylines, she bought the property in 2000 for £300,000 with first husband Marcus Killick, who still co-owns the property, according to Land Registry records.

Her and her second spouse (William Nicholas Mortimer) supplement their income with a three-bedroom B&B run from the farmhouse.

Mortimer has said she will now start looking for a home in her new constituency, telling reporters she will have a home in Hartlepool “without a doubt.”

"I will be going to the estate agents, probably this weekend if I get a minute,” she said.

Before moving to Knayton, Mortimer previously lived in London and in the Cayman Islands while her then-husband was working there.

During the campaign, the Conservatives were called upon to clarify the link between Mortimer and the popular tax haven, with deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner saying the party had selected a candidate who has “more connection with tax havens than Hartlepool town centre”.

Conservative party co-chair Amanda Milling has stated that Mortimer "did not gain any tax advantage" from living in the popular tax haven, “nor did she advise any others on this".

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