UKIP’s Mark Reckless has won back his Rochester and Strood parliamentary seat after claiming 2,900 more votes than his Conservative competitor in yesterday’s by-election.
The Tory defector, who this week sought to reassure the Irish that they were “welcome” within the party’s controversial immigration policies, took 16,867 votes following a day of polling in the Kent constituency.
He was followed by Conservative Kelly Tolhurst's 13,947, with Labour's Naushabah Khan on 6,713.
The Green Party placed fourth in the polls, ahead of the Liberal Democrats who claimed just 349 votes.
Reckless - the son of a Sligo woman who came to Britain to find work as a nurse - claimed the voters remained his “boss” after the results were revealed.
“If we can win here, we can win across the country,” he added.
“Whichever constituency, whatever your former party allegiance, think of what it would mean to have a bloc of Ukip MPs at Westminster large enough to hold the balance of power,' he said.
After being sworn in at Westminster today, Reckless becomes the second Ukip candidate to win a place in Parliament - following fellow Tory defector Douglas Carswell, who became the first elected Ukip MP in October.
Party leader Nigel Farage punched the air in celebration as the results were announced in the early hours of this morning, claiming: "If you vote UKIP, you get UKIP.”
Earlier this week the right wing party attempted to reassure Ireland and its nationals that they would not fall foul of their divisive anti-immigration and Euro-sceptic policies.
Speaking ahead of the election Reckless told The Irish Post: “I think it’s important that the people who come from Ireland understand that UKIP is their party as much as it is a party for people from elsewhere in these islands and that Irish people will be welcomed to stay and work and vote in the UK without restriction.”
He also claimed Irish people, including his mother, were not immigrants in Britain.
“I don’t see my Irish mother as an immigrant any more than I see my Scottish wife as one,” he said.
“I don’t consider myself to have an immigrant background either,” he added.
“People on these islands have moved around for time immemorial and for much of that period it was a single political unit, so therefore I don’t see why Irish people should in arrears be classified as immigrants when we have had a very very long period of freedom of movement and common government across these islands.”