Prime Minister David Cameron suffered another setback before the May 2015 general elections when his Conservative party MP who defected to the UK Independence Party (UKIP) won a byelection on Friday morning.
Mark Reckless, who won as the Conservative candidate in the 2010 elections from Rochester and Strood, was re-elected comfortably, handing UKIP its second MP in the House of Commons. UKIP had wrested the Clacton seat from the Conservatives in a by-election in October.
UKIP, which made major gains in the May local and European Union elections, has struck a chord across large parts of England with its anti-EU agenda, which coalesces into the anti-immigration discourse that continues to be a sensitive subject in Britain.
Faced with the prospect of more Conservative MPs defecting to UKIP, Cameron put up a brave face after the by-election defeat and vowed to regain Rochester and Strood in May 2015.
"This result was closer than the forecasters predicted. I am absolutely determined to win this seat back because absolutely anything other than a Conservative government will put our recovery at risk and mean Ed Miliband in Downing Street”, he said.
A delighted UKIP leader Nigel Farage claimed that the by-election win indicated that the result of the May 2015 election had become ‘unpredictable beyond comprehension’. UKIP hopes to hold the balance of power, a position enjoyed by the Liberal Democrats after the 2010 elections.
Reckless polled 42 per cent votes, while the Conservative candidate polled 38 per cent. The Labour candidate finished third, while the ruling coalition partner Liberal Democrats were fifth in the number of votes polled.