A jubilant Nigel Farage insisted today that his party was set to cause "tremors" in Westminster after securing more than 150 council seats in the local elections on a remarkable day of results.
The party shrugged off a campaign blighted by allegations of racism from party candidates, variously described as “fruitcakes” and “loons”.
Senior Labour MP David Lammy insisted his comments about Romanian immigrants make it “clear he’s a racist”, dismissing his own party leader Ed Miliband’s refusal to describe him in such terms as “pedantic”.
Even a disastrous interview just a week before the poll that saw LBC presenter James O’Brien unravel Farage’s usually composed media personality by questioning him over his expenses failed to dissuade many members of the public.
The party celebrated its biggest gains in Essex where it gained 11 seats in Basildon to ensure it went from Tory to no overall control. Ukip also made inroads in Labour's northern heartlands, taking 10 of the 21 council seats up for election in Rotherham.
Ukip gaffes and controversies
Ukip gaffes and controversies
1/18 European elections poster
Party's latest EU election posters branded 'racist' and compared to BNP campaigns
2/18 Farage 'car-crash' interview
Ukip spin doctor forced to intervene as Farage falters in disastrous radio interview
3/18 Neil Hamilton
Picture Exclusive: The year is 1998. The venue is a Springbok Club meeting. The flag is a symbol for white supremacists in South Africa. And the speaker is Ukip’s deputy chairman, Neil Hamilton
4/18 Kerry Smith
Kerry Smith resigned as would-be MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock after it emerged he had mocked gay party members as “disgusting poofters”, joked about shooting people from Chigwell in a “peasant hunt” and referred to someone with a Chinese name as a “Chinky bird”
5/18 Natasha Bolter
Former Ukip member Natasha Bolter was suspected of not having the teaching qualifications she professed to, only days after it was revealed that claims of her having attended Oxford University were also false
6/18 Ukip Calypso song
Mike Reid released a single in praise of UKIP trying to control the UK's borders, only to withdraw the single after being accused of racism for singing in a Jamaican accent
7/18 Janice Atkinson
Janice Atkinson, Ukip's South East chair, pictured by protesters while campaigning in Ashford, Kent with local party chair Norman Taylor
8/18 Ukip cancels Freephone
Ukip cancels Freephone number after protesters repeatedly called to push up costs
9/18 Farage 'car-crash' interview
Mr Farage appeared to be caught out on a number of issues, from Romanian neighbours to people speaking foreign languages on the train
10/18 Ukip employs illegal immigrants
Ukip criticised after European election candidate found employing illegal immigrants
11/18 Magnus Nielsen
Ukip candidate: 'Take away the right to vote to improve election turnout'
12/18 Poster model
A “British builder” portrayed in a Ukip poster accusing EU workers of taking UK jobs turns out to be an Irish actor - aka a migrant worker
13/18 'Arrest protesters'
Ukip called for police to arrest protesters ‘who call us fascists’ ahead of showdown with anti-fascist groups in Brighton
14/18 London Live make-up
Ukip's Nigel Farage reportedly refused to go on London Live 'without professional make up-artist'
15/18 Andre Lampitt
Ukip forced to suspend the "poster boy" of its European election broadcast, after it was revealed he had posted a series of vile racist comments on Twitter
Nigel Farage says he is taking taking legal advice over “outrageous” allegations that he is responsible for more than £50,000 of “missing” EU funding that was paid directly into his personal bank account
17/18 Have I Got News For You
Nigel Farage appears in Have I Got News For You, spends the entire episode being ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
18/18 Anti-gay comments
Local branch chairman for Ukip defends a party's councillor candidate Douglas Denny who called gay people “abnormal” and said he wished “they stop trying to ram it down my throat”, all while discussing whether the word “sodomite” should be used
In Great Yarmouth, Labour lost control of of the council after Ukip gained 10 seats. Labour leader Miliband found himself facing a backlash of criticism from his own party today and was accused of leading an "unforgivably unprofessional" campaign which Ed Balls described as "not good enough", despite gaining over 200 seats.
The surge in support for the anti-EU party led a jubilant Farage to declare “the Ukip fox is in the Westminster hen-house” after the first confirmed results this morning.
Mr Farage had predicted his party could hoover up 200 extra council seats by the end of the day - and said European election results due Monday could be even better following what he described as “a very good night for Ukip”.
In a forceful message, he warned his opponents that over the course of the summer Ukip will choose constituencies to target, and “throw the kitchen sink at them”.
And in a possible first sign of UKIP's impact, sources familiar with David Cameron's thinking told Reuters the British leader would lobby fellow EU leaders against nominating either of the two leading candidates of the mainstream EU parties as president of the executive European Commission.
This morning, Mr Cameron admitted the Tories would need to show they have "answers" on issues such as immigration and welfare reform, after conceding the public were "frustrated" with the political establishment's failure to address their concerns.
Miliband however put the results down to a "deep sense of discontent with the way the country is run" and said votes for Ukip "are an expression of this discontent" and a desire for change.