Green Party savours first Westminster seat

The Green Party was this morning celebrating having its first MP in Britain with the election of Caroline Lucas.

She won the Brighton Pavillion constituency from Labour in what many consider is the nation's most 'alternative' city.

The leader of the Greens was regarded as the frontrunner but there were fears of a surge by the Liberal Democrats amid the excitement surrounding Nick Clegg.

However, as the Liberal democrats suffered a disapopointuing night nationwide, Ms Lucas was able to claim victory in the south coast resort.

She said as the Greens began their celebrations: "Tonight the people of Brighton Pavilion have made history by voting Britian's first Green MP to Westminster." She added that the result was a triumph of hope over fear.

Around the country, early indications suggested the party polled more than 200,000 votes which, if proportional represnetation were to be introduced, would be likely to give them more seats.

In a sign of the party's growing influence and support the Greens fielded more than 100 candidates in the election and already ahve 126 councillors spread around 43 local authorities.

The victory in Brighton ends Britain's status as the only major European country never to have had a Green MP. There have, however, been Green MEPs from Britain.

Zac Goldsmith, the millionaire former editor of the Ecologist magazine and green adviser to the Tory party, took the Richmond Park seat for the Conservatives from Susan Kramer, the Liberal Democrat.

He overturned the Liberal Democrats' 3,700 majority but said the poll had "gone down to the wire", adding: "I don't think anybody would have wanted to call the result at all until a few minutes before it was called."

Despite his party allegiance he said he welcomed the election of Ms Lucas for the Greens in Brighton.

"The presence of a more green-thinking Parliament is a good thing," he said.