A date has been set for the Clacton by-election following the shock defection by a Conservative MP to Ukip – and it falls on David Cameron’s 48th birthday.
Taking place on 9 October, the election was triggered by the standing down of Douglas Carswell who is set to run again under Ukip.
If Mr Carswell wins, he will be the Eurosceptic party’s first politician to be elected into Parliament.
The result looks like it could swing to the favour of Mr Carswell after a Survation poll by the Mail on Sunday found that Ukip holds a 44-point lead over the Tories in the seat.
A win by Ukip would be a humiliating defeat for the Conservatives, shedding some light on its chances of winning next year’s General Election.
Ukip leader Nigel Farage has said that it would be a “landslide in British politics”.
Ukip’s rising stars
Ukip’s rising stars
1/7 Suzanne Evans
A Tory defector who has only been in the party for a year. She was rapidly appointed national communities spokesman. A former BBC reporter who now runs a PR agency, she has won plaudits within the party for her confidence in front of the camera.
2/7 Steven Woolfe
A barrister from Manchester whose father was mixed-race and mother was white. He was invited to become financial services spokesman before he had even joined Ukip. Now an MEP, his ethnicity and northern upbringing are in strong contrast to the Ukip stereotype.
3/7 Margot Parker
A local businesswoman who impressed Ukip’s hierarchy with her spirited campaign in the Corby and East Northants by-election 18 months ago. She was elected as an MEP for the East Midlands last week. She has a no-nonsense style which party chiefs believe will be persuasive on the national stage.
4/7 Patrick O’Flynn
A former Daily Express journalist who became Ukip’s director of communications and was a strategist behind the Euro-elections campaign. An experienced performer on television who is close to Mr Farage. With his media background he could become a culture spokesman.
5/7 Amjid Bashir
A restaurateur of Pakistani lineage who is one three Ukip MEPs representing Yorkshire and the Humber and currently speaks for the party on small business. After his election he said: “Here I am... of Asian birth, of Asian parentage, Muslim, and I have been selected by this so-called racist party. It disproves that completely.”
6/7 Louise Bours
Until her combative appearance alongside Piers Morgan and Joey Barton on Question Time last Thursday, she was one of Ukip’s lesser-known faces. The new MEP for the north-west is a former actress whose full name is Louise van de Bours. Her northern credentials could come in handy in wooing Labour-leaning voters.
7/7 Paul Nuttall
Long serving activist from Merseyside who became Ukip’s chairman in 2008 and deputy leader two years later. He is a key weapon in the party’s attempts to broaden its appeal to working-class voters in the North of England.
Mr Carswell had been the Conservative MP for Clacton since 2010, with the Tories yet to announce their new candidate for the by-election.
Boris Johnson laughed off the idea that he could put his name forward, telling LBC Radio: “The first objection really, is that I've already whacked in the CV for Uxbridge. It would seem a bit eccentric.”
Mr Carswell left the Conservatives after becoming dissatisfied by its stance on Europe, believing that Prime Minister David Cameron no longer wanted to overhaul its relationship with the EU.
Mr Cameron called Mr Carswell’s decision “bizarre” as he had pledged to offer a referendum on EU membership should the Tories retain power. He also called it “deeply regrettable” and “counterproductive”.
According to the BBC, Labour has nominated Colchester councillor Tim Young as its candidate and the Clacton Conservative Association said it would fight a “robust” campaign.
Upon Mr Carswell’s surprise announcement last week, he said that only Ukip could “shake up that cosy little clique called Westminster”.
“I'm joining Ukip not because I am a conservative who hankers after the past. I want change. Things can be better than this,” he said in a statement on his website.