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Theresa May in Wolverhampton: New mayor Andy will put West Midlands streets ahead - PICTURES and VIDEO

By Rob Golledge | Wolverhampton | News | Published:

Theresa May arrived in Wolverhampton today to congratulate the new West Midlands Mayor Andy Street on his election victory.

The Conservative party leader visited UTC Aerospace this afternoon to herald Mr Street's nail-biting win.

Mr Street edged out Labour's Sion Simon at yesterday's count to win the historic poll and become the West Midlands' first metro mayor.

The former John Lewis boss, aged 53, beat Mr Simon, a former Birmingham Erdington MP, in the tight contest that was decided on second preference votes.

Mrs May brought her General Election campaign to the Midlands which is an area expected to be a key battleground for the June 8 poll.

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The Prime Minister told the Express & Star: "I would like to congratulate Andy Street on winning the West Midlands mayoralty.

"People here in the West Midlands now have a strong local champion in Andy who will get on with the job for delivering for the local area.

"A strong mayor here in the West Midlands, a Conservative mayor, working with a Conservative government can deliver for this region.

"I have seen in visits to companies I have done with Andy his determination to ensure there is investment, job and opportunities for the people here in the West Midlands."

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Mr Street said he and the Prime Minister spoke about the region's 'industrial strategy' and how it was famed for its automotive industry and aerospace sector.

They met with workers and apprentices at the Stafford Road firm.

WATCH: Theresa May joins Andy Street on Wolverhampton visit

Theresa May visits UTC Aerospace in Wolverhampton

He said: "I has been brilliant to come here to Wolverhampton with the Prime Minister. We are at a company that just exemplifies the success of the West Midlands.

"UTC - it's all about very hi-tech leading-edge manufacturing.

"And that is a sector that we talked about in our plans for the West Midlands and one that we have to grow jobs in the future.

"It has been a wonderful exemplar and it is also great to have the visible support of the Prime Minister."

Mrs May insisted she is "taking nothing for granted" following emphatic local election victories which have sparked predictions she is heading for a landslide in the June 8 General Election.

The Prime Minister's comment came as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn acknowledged he faces "a challenge on a historic scale" to turn round polling figures which suggest he is headed for defeat.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said that this week's elections showed Labour was "finished" as a viable opposition to a Conservative Party which was heading for a landslide majority larger than those enjoyed by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.

Mrs May said: "I'm very grateful for the support that we received in the local elections...but the question people now face in the General Election is: Who should lead the country for the next five years - me or Jeremy Corbyn?

Addressing supporters in Leicester, Mr Corbyn acknowledged that yesterday's results - which saw Labour shed 320 councillors and lose control of seven authorities, were "disappointing", but insisted that "the gap between us and the Tories is not as great as the pundits have been saying".

He called on supporters to "seize the moment" by campaigning hard over the next five weeks to transform the party's prospects.

And he said that if Labour won, there would be "a reckoning" with big businesses and bankers who had stripped industrial assets, crashed the economy and ripped off consumers and workers.

"This election could be a great and proud moment in our national story," said Mr Corbyn.

Rob Golledge

By Rob Golledge
@golledge_star

Part of the Express & Star special projects team responsible for investigations and major stories from politics to counter terrorism

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