Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as former Conservative Mark Reckless sworn in

Victory marks another embarrassment for major parties as Nigel Farage declares ‘all bets are off’ for 2015 General Election

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Former Conservative MP Mark Reckless has been sworn in as Ukip’s second Member of Parliament this morning, but his taking of the oath was marred by heckling from the Labour benches.

Mr Reckless, 43, who defected from the Tory party on 27 September, was announced the winner of a bitterly contested by-election for Rochester and Strood earlier this morning.

The campaign saw Labour shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry resign after being heavily criticised for a “snobbish” tweet depicting a Rochester home flying the Saint George's flag.

Mr Reckless, who won the seat with a majority of almost 3,0000 votes, will join Douglas Carswell, MP for Clacton, as the second Ukip representative in the House of Commons. The pair, who are known to be friends, tweeted a picture together earlier this morning.

The Ukip MP’s taking of the oath was unusually conducted on a Friday – the Commons ordinarily only takes backbench bills on this day, often not sitting at all – to a chamber largely empty of Conservative MPs.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the victory meant that "all bets are off" for the 2015 general election.

It marks another embarrassing result for David Cameron. The Prime Minister promised to throw everything at fighting the by-election, visiting the seat himself five times and ordering all of his MPs to make at least three visits to the town.

Speaking outside Kings Cross, London, en route to Wales, Mr Cameron  vowed he was "absolutely determined to win" the Rochester seat back.



Mr Reckless’s victory also heralds another embarrassing news cycle for Labour leader Ed Miliband, who was forced to accept Ms Thornberry’s resignation following her controversial tweet.

The Labour candidate, Naushabah Khan, managed only 16.8 per cent of the vote with 6,713 votes. In comparison, the Conservative candidate Kelly Tolhurst took 13, 947.

The Liberal Democrats lost another deposit in the by-election, with their candidate polling just 349 votes.