Published: 08:22, 27 May 2019
| Updated: 13:09, 27 May 2019
The Brexit Party headed by Nigel Farage emerged as the clear winner in the European Parliament elections in Kent.
It topped the poll in all of the local council areas in many cases by huge margins more than 8,000 votes.
But despite this the party did not - as some had predicted - make a clean sweep in the South East region.
The Brexit Party swept to victory in the European Elections
It won four of the 10 seats up for grabs while the Liberal Democrats enjoyed a surge in support that was rewarded with three seats - two more than it had.
While the Conservatives had a poor night it avoided the political annihilation that some in the party had feared.
It lost one of the two seats it held but Daniel Hannan, the prominent Eurosceptic figure, held on to his seat by a narrow margin.
There was also relief for Labour which at one stage of the count had looked like it might lose its one MEP John Howarth.
The Green Party also held on to its one MEP.
But there was no denying that it was the Brexit Party that had most to celebrate across Kent.
Its leader Nigel Farage said the results had put the government on notice that it had to deliver Brexit by the October 31 deadline or it would face a General Election in which voters would punish the Conservatives again.
He said: “Never before has British politics had a new party launch six weeks agothat topped the poll of a national election.
"The reason is very obvious - we voted to leave in a referendum and we haven't.
"There is a huge message there - Labour and Conservatives could learn something from this but I don't suppose they will.
"I hope the government is listening. If we don't leave by October 31, the scores that we have seen tonight will be repeated in a General Election and we are getting ready for it.”
He sidestepped questions about whether in such a General Election he would stand in a Kent seat, as he did in South Thanet in 2015.
The Liberal Democrats were jubilant after gaining three seats, a result which they said put them as the main remain party.
Anthony Hook, the Faversham county councillor who becomes one of the three MEPs for the party, said: “People have sent a very strong message that they want Brexit to be stopped.
"A lot of people who voted to leave are not getting what they thought theywould.
"We have come first or second in every district in the South East.
"That puts us in a very strong position in a General Election to say we are the main remain party and we are the party to challenge the incumbent MP who in most cases will be a Brexit supporting Conservative.”
A clearly relieved Conservative Daniel Hannan acknowledged that it had been a poor night for his party.
“People are angry and it is no mystery what they are angry about," he said.
"They voted leave and all the politicians promised we would. Three years later and we haven't.”
He said that whoever became the next party leader need not be aggressive in pursuing a deal.
"Europe is still going to be our friend and ally. They are still going to be our customers and suppliers and we have a shared interest ensuring a deal goes well.”
For Labour,the re-elected John Howarth said voters were confused about his party's position on Brexit.
“It needs to be very clear that returning Brexit to the people is the only way to bring the country together.”
The party's position on Brexit looked like it was being equivocal.
“We are long past point where we needed to say: this is what we think should happen.”
It was a disappointing outcome for the other new party Change UK.
Richard Ashworth, who had defected to the new party from the Conservative group in the European Parliament, placed the blame on the fact it had only been formed for a matter of weeks.
He said: “We can be optimistic; there is still a space in the centre ground for a party like ours.”
More by this authorPaul Francis