First UKIP council seat sends warning to Tories

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John Cornforth became Britain's first UK Independence Party (UKIP) councillor when he scored a surprise win in Hull.

John Cornforth became Britain's first UK Independence Party (UKIP) councillor when he scored a surprise win in Hull.

He received just 3 per cent of the vote when he stood for the anti-European Union party in the 2001 general election.

But after six recounts, and threats of a legal challenge, Mr Cornforth narrowly captured the Derringham ward with 945 votes from an independent councillor.

He said: "The people of Hull have had enough of the same people being responsible and are looking for new blood."

UKIP won its seat in a city where Labour and the Liberal Democrats vie for political power. It is represented in the Commons by John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister.

But its breakthrough will also send a warning signal to the Tories, who will fear that UKIP could win over disillusioned Conservatives.

The victory will further raise the morale of UKIP, which is hoping to win its first seat in the London Assembly today. It also expects to increase its number of Euro-MPs from three to as many as 12 in the European Parliament results to be declared on Sunday.

Roger Knapman, UKIP's leader, said early today: "We're taking votes from all three traditional parties."

The Green Party, which was also predicting a rise in its share of the vote, made early gains in Watford and Oxford and held its first seat in Manchester.

A spokeswoman said: "We think we are going to increase the number of Green councillors by a third and are confident of significantly increasing our number of Euro MPs."

But Respect, the alliance of anti-war, Muslim and socialist groups, is not expected to score any electoral successes. It has had to compete for the "Iraq vote" with the Liberal Democrats and the Greens.

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