Ukip won a landmark victory in Rochester and Strood today, overturning a Tory majority of 10,000 to secure its second MP.
Mark Reckless, the former Conservative who defected on the eve of the party’s conference, will return to Westminster wearing Ukip colours after beating the Tory candidate, Kelly Tolhurst. He won with a majority of 2,920 votes, or 7.3 per cent, a result closer than polls had predicted.
David Cameron’s failure hold a seat the Tories won four years ago with 49 per cent of the vote is a major blow for the prime minister, who visited the seat five times in the run-up to yesterday’s poll.
At the start of the campaign he was “absolutely determined” to win the contest triggered by Mr Reckless. “We are coming for you in by-elections and we are going to throw everything we can at you,” he said earlier in the month. His efforts were not enough to stop the insurgent party from gaining its second MP in two months just five months from a general election.
It was a point not lost on a triumphant Nigel Farage, speaking to reporters he said: “(David Cameron) put his own personal reputation on the line to fight this by-election and lost, so there you go.”
Mr Reckless also hammered home the point, rallying supporters in his acceptance speech telling them that the election was now up for grabs.
“If we can win here, we can win across the country. If you vote Ukip, you get Ukip,” he said.
Telling voters: “You remain my boss, don’t let me forget it.”
Mr Reckless said his victory had proved that Ukip could win nationwide and urged voters to ensure enough MPs were elected to hold the balance of power after 2015.