I have to say that I was surprised when I heard that Ben Houchen had been elected as the new Mayor of the Tees Valley. Surprised, but very pleased. When you consider that this area covers Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, Hartlepool, and Darlington, it points the way to Conservative gains in Darlington and Hartlepool in the general election. I have previously called those seats as Conservative gains. I now think they are nailed on certainties.