Richard Tice, chairman of the Brexit Party

Image caption

The defectors met Brexit party chairman Richard Tice on Friday

The Brexit Party has taken over the running of its first council in north-east England.

Hartlepool Borough Council announces nine independent counsilors formed a pact with the Brexit Party on Thursday night.

The Brexit Party said it had "put country before party" and formed a coalition with three conservatives.

The council said the new group had replaced the Independent Union and Conservative Group.

Previously, the only council in England to have the Brexit Party as part of a governing coalition was Burnley.

Seven out of 10 people in Hartlepool voted Leave in the EU referendum.

'Westminster shenanigans'

In a statement, the Brexit Party said the "defectors" had attended a party conference at Sedgefield on Thursday and met party chairman Richard Tice.

It said the alliance was a blow to the Labor Party which lost control of all five Tees Valley councils and councils of seats in May.

Mr Tice said: "Regardless of the shenanigans at Westminster, Brexiteers in the North East are pushing to take back control so they can respect the Brexit vote."

Analysis from David Rhodes, BBC political correspondent for the North East and Cumbria:

"Hartlepool has been a target for UKIP and now the Brexit Party in Westminster elections.

"With 12 councillors the Brexit Party and Conservative coalition would be the largest group in the 33 seat Hartlepool council."