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The Conservatives seized the mayoralty of the West Midlands with a narrow victory by Andy Street, the former boss of retailer John Lewis.

He received 238,867 votes, with Labour’s Sion Simon gaining 234,867.

The contest went to a second round after no candidate won 50 per cent of first-preference votes.

Mr Street proclaimed the “rebirth of the urban Conservative tradition”, saying the party was returning in places it has been absent since the 1980s.

Mr Simon blamed national issues for his defeat and said Labour voters had lost confidence in the party.

At the 2015 general election, the Conservatives received 32.5 per cent and Labour 42 per cent. Mr Street scored big in Brexit-voting areas such as Walsall and Dudley, where he won more than half the vote. These are areas the Tories are targeting in the general election.

Seven boroughs including Birmingham make up the largest metro mayoralty, and Mr Street will now control a £1.2bn fund. The next election is in 2020.

Turnout was 29 per cent.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.

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