Published: 00:00, 21 November 2014
| Updated: 00:07, 21 November 2014
Ukip scored a remarkable second by-election victory and says it is heading for more success after Mark Reckless emerged victorious in the battle for Rochester and Strood.
On a long night of drama that followed weeks of bitter campaigning, Mr Reckless was eventually declared the winner at 4.15am.
He took the seat for which he had been Conservative MP since 2010 with a majority of more than 3,000. His majority as a Conservative at the last election was more than 10,000.
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The margin of his victory this time was not as great as polls throughout the campaign had suggested and the Conservatives took some consolation from closing the gap and will feel they can regain the seat at the General Election in May.
Watched by Nigel Farage, his party leader, Mr Reckless said his win signalled that Ukip could win in other areas.
“If we can win here, we can win across the country,” he said in his acceptance speech.
“You are the boss and you must not let me forget it.”
In a pointed comment following the row about his remarks over immigration, he said: “I had more than a dash of support from people who have come here from other nations.”
The six-week campaign, which saw the Prime Minister “throw the kitchen sink” at the constituency in a desperate bid to halt Nigel Farage’s bandwagon, all came down to list of 13 names read out by returning officer Hugo Fenwick followed by the votes they had each polled.
They ranged from 22 to Mr Reckless’s 16,867 – a 42% share of the overall vote, with just over half the number of voters going to the polls yesterday.
Mr Farage said: “This election was Ukip against the government. If we can win our 271st target seat I don’t think anybody now can intelligently predict anything for the general election next year. This throws the whole thing up in the air.
“But I think Britain is on the way out of the European Union, it’s just a question of how long really.
“Whatever’s happened here, important though it is, perhaps what Nicolas Sarkozy has said in the last 24 hours is even more significant, the Franco-German axis that has been at the heart of the European project for the last 60 years is in the process of breaking.”
A visibly upset Kelly Tolhurst, the Conservative candidate, said Ukip’s victory would only mean that Labour could form the next government and lead to higher taxes.
It was a disappointing night for Labour but its candidate Naushabah Khan was bullish in the face of coming third. She said Labour needed to get its message across more clearly to those supporters who had moved over to Ukip this time.
For Medway, the political drama provided a unprecedented branding opportunity and the council did not miss the chance to showcase the area.
Video: Mark Reckless's victory night. Edited: Graham Stothard and Laura Garcia
Here's our coverage from throughout the night:
04.30: So that's it from the live coverage - from what was dubbed one of the most important by-elections in more than 30 years
04.20: 'More than a dash of support' for migrants from other nation states - they are part of our community and will always be welcome
04.19: He's saying if you vote Ukip you get Ukip
04.16: BREAKING: Mark Reckless wins Rochester and Strood by-election for Ukip
04.09: Candidates are being told the result ahead of the official announcement
04.02: A round-up of tonight's events in video:
03.59: Any suggestions for a collective noun for politicians?
03.58: There's an empty stage with a lot of politicians milling around it ahead of an expected announcement.
03.47: Fingers are being crossed and breaths held as an announcement in the by-election is expected any minute.
03.42: The breakdown of votes in the Peninsula ward:
03.30: From earlier, why this picture has caused a political storm... and a Labour resignation
03.28: Here's how the votes panned out for the local election result: Chris Irvine (Ukip): 2,850 Green: 314 Lib dem: 60 Ronald Sands (Tory) 1,965 Lab: 716
03.25: That makes him the first elected Ukip councillor on Medway council
03.20: Chris Irvine has won the Peninsula council ward by-election for Ukip.
03.15: From earlier, the turnout was just over half the electorate.
03.00: They threw the kitchen sink at the by-election. Do the Tories now need a plumber?
03.00: We're hearing the Peninsula ward results are due in about 10 minutes
02.55: Bit of a lull now, with some pundits predicting the result won't come through until 4.30am. Where's the double espresso?
02.47: He says all bets are off for the general election
02.45: Farage gets a little snappy when asked if he's jealous that it's not him potentially being elected tonight.
02.35: Nigel Farage has arrived at the by-election count - and he's had a few stinging words for the Tories
02.20: Mark Reckless on arriving at the count:
02.12: Sky have now nabbed our political editor Paul Francis for a comment.
02.10: The Peninsular ward result is expected soonish.
02.01: By popular demand, here's Santa (alias independent candidate Mike Barber)
01.55: Here's who far right group Britain First think should win
01.50: So, Santa Claus has turned up, rumours are that Farage is about to arrive, and here's another fella getting a reaction
01.40: Here's the announcement of the turnout figures
01.30: Our own Bob Bounds - Medway Messenger editor - being interviewed by Sky. Fifteen minutes of fame?
01.20: The man of the moment - Mark Reckless - has arrived at the count
0.12: Here's what our own straw poll is predicting for the result
01.06: Apparently the independent candidate Chris Challis will be out partying the night away at the Casino Rooms during the count
01.00: Let's not forget the local vote, and the turnout at Peninsula ward was: 5,928 votes cast - 54.87% turnout
00.51: The full details are: 40,113 votes cast - which equals a 50.67% turnout
00.50: Turnout figures announced at just over half the electorate
00.45: The Green Party candidate Clive Gregory says he is confident he will retain his deposit
00.40: Seems we're expecting Nigel Farage to arrive at around 1am.
00.40: Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry has been forced to resign over a tweet
00.40: And already the controversy has begun... http://www.kentonline.co.uk/medway/news/election-what-election-27335/
00.30: The Labour team doing some number-crunching
00.30: And it looks like the 'Sexual Freedom' candidate Charlotte Rose on course to beat Lib Dems in Rochester and Strood.
00.30: And so we're off, and the heat is beginning to rise in the Rochester and Strood by-election count.
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