Sir Keir Starmer is already being briefed against by his MPs
The party leader's authority has been hit by a bruising result in the former Labour seat that saw a Conservative MP elected for the first time in 50 years.
Just hours after the result has been announced, critics of Sir Keir are already briefing against him.
Blaming the leadership's lack of socialist policies for failing to win the seat that was won twice under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, Diane Abbott tweeted: "Crushing defeat for Labour in Hartlepool. Not possible to blame Jeremy Corbyn for this result.
"Labour won the seat twice under his leadership. Keir Starmer must think again about his strategy."
Another MP labelled the leader a "lame duck", warning of a leadership challenge to come.
They said: "You’ll begin to see his authority wane and the big fish maneuver quite disrespectfully around the still-moving carcass."
More to follow...