Andy Street, the former boss of John Lewis, has narrowly defeated his rival, former Labour MP Siôn Simon, to become the first mayor of the West Midlands.
The contest for one of six newly created metropolitan mayors modelled after London's directly elected mayor was initially expected to favour Labour, but grew into a tighter race after the party slumped in the polls.
The West Midlands mayor has power over multiple Midlands cities, including Birmingham – the UK's second-largest city – Wolverhampton, Coventry, and Dudley, among others.
The contest was almost as close as it could be: After first preference votes were cast, Street had a narrow edge of around 6,000 votes.
Simon picked up slightly more second preference votes – transferred from defeated candidates of minor parties – than his rival, but in the end could not overturn this victory.
Street claimed 238,628 votes to Simon's 234,862 – a majority of just 3,766.
The mayorality will be Street's first political role. The businessman previously spent most of his career working for the John Lewis Partnership, spending nine years as the company's managing director before stepping down last year to focus on politics.
Earlier today, Labour suffered a devastating blow in what was once its heartland, losing the first ever Tees Valley mayoral election to the Conservatives.
James Ball is a special correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London. PGP: here
Contact James Ball at James.Ball@buzzfeed.com.
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