LONDON — UKIP has easily won the Rochester & Strood by-election, giving the anti-European Union party its second seat in Westminster.
Mark Reckless took 42.1 percent of the vote — he is the second Conservative to leave the party and win back the seat for UK Independence Party.
Immigration was a big issue during the campaign and earlier this week Reckless faced criticism after comments he made concerning European migrants that currently live in the UK.
Mark Reckless arrives at the Rochester count pic.twitter.com/Dtdy4GEWgo— AndrewSparrow (@AndrewSparrow) November 21, 2014
The Conservative candidate Kelly Tolhurst took 34.8 percent, Labour's Naushabah Khan received 16.7 percent, while the junior coalition partners, the Liberal Democrat's candidate Geoff Juby, got just 349 votes — giving him 0.87 percent of the poll, the party's worst ever performance.
Turnout in the constituency was 50.7% with 40,113 votes cast.
It's the second victory for UKIP after the party won the Clacton by-election last month following Douglas Carswell's defection from the Conservatives.
After being declared the winner, Reckless said UKIP has emerged as a radical party representing the concerns of the working class.
"The radical tradition, which has stood and spoken for the working class, has found a new home in UKIP ... it is not Ed Miliband but UKIP that represents the concerns of most working men and women," Reckless said in his victory speech.
"Rochester & Strood was our 271st most winnable seat, if we can win here, we can win across the country. If you vote UKIP you get UKIP ," Reckless said responding to claims by the Conservative party that a vote for UKIP in the general election in May is a vote for Labour.
The Conservative Party said it was disappointed with the result but said there were "different circumstances" in a by-election.
"We will fight every single day to win this seat back," Grant Shapps Conservative Party Chairman told the BBC.
Meanwhile, a Labour MP has stepped down from the shadow cabinet after a tweet she sent, showing a house with three England flags and a white van outside with the words "Image from Rochester," prompted accusations of snobbery.
Last night, she said it was never her intention to cause offence with the tweet, but resigned because she did not want to distract from Labour’s chance to win the coming general election.
I apologise for any offence caused by the 3 flag picture. People should fly the England flag with pride!— Emily Thornberry MP (@EmilyThornberry) November 20, 2014
Tags: ELECTION, POLITICS, UK, UKIP, US & World