Ukip timeline: The gradual rise to Westminster

Nigel Farage's party won the Rochester and Strood by-election

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Indy Politics

With two MPs over 24 years elected in the past two months, Ukip's climb to the House of Commons has been slow. However the party has played a big threat to the Conservatives with both wins being made by Tory defectors.

Here is a timeline from the party's inception to the present day Parliament seat wins:

September 1993

Ukip was founded by the Anti-Federalist League at London School of Economics as a "democratic,  libertarian party", headed by history professor Alan Sked.

May 1997

Ukip candidates stood in the 1997 general election but were overshadowed by James Goldsmith's Referendum Party and Sked resigned from leadership after he said some members were "racist and have been infected by the far-right".

Goldsmith died soon after the election and his Referendum Party was dissolved, leading to an influx of members joining Ukip. Millionaire businessman Michael Holmes won leadership and Ukip gained three seats (Holmes, Nigel Farage and Jeffrey Titford) in the 1999 European Parliament elections.


May 2001

Ukip failed to get representation in Westminster under Titford's leadership following Holmes' resignation, after putting up candidates in more than 420 seats in the 2001 general election.

May 2004

Twelve MEPs from Ukip were elected in the 2004 European elections and the party won two London Assembly seats the same year.

October 2004

Robert Kilroy-Silk, Ukip MEP and former Labour MP, said at the Bristol party conference that the Conservative Party must be "killed off" after Conservatives finished fourth behind Ukip in the Hartlepool by-election.

January 2005

Kilroy-Silk resigned from Ukip, calling it a "joke". Two weeks later, he founded his own party, Veritas, and took a number of Ukip members, including both of the London Assembly members.

May 2005

In the general election, Ukip fielded 495 candidates and gained 618,000 votes, or 2.3 per cent of the total votes cast, but did not win a seat in the House of Commons.

Following the election, Kilroy-Silk resigned from Veritas after its performance, with the party having received only 40,607 votes.

April 2006

David Cameron, during a phone-in on London's LBC radio station, described Ukip members as being "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, mostly." Farage asked for an apology but Cameron refused.

September 2006

Farage was elected leader of Ukip with 45 per cent of the vote.


Former BNP members were banned from joining Ukip with several candidates suspended from the party for racist views.

 May 2009

Ukip came second in the European Election with 16.5 per cent of the vote and 13 MEPs, an increase of one MEP. Malcolm Pearson won leadership the same year.

November 2009

Nigel Farage stepped down from leadership to concentrate on contesting the Buckingham seat from Commons speaker John Bercow.

May 2010

Ukip gained no seats in the general election despite gaining 919,471 votes (3.1 per cent). This made it the party with the largest percentage of the vote to win no Westminster representation.

August 2010

Nigel Farage won the leadership election a second time with 60 per cent of the vote after Pearson's resignation in August.

Although Ukip did not poll well, it made gains across many parts of England, as well as taking control of Ramsey town council with nine councillors out of 17. While the party made both gains and losses, the party fell short of Farage's predictions of major wins. The Ukip MEP Marta Andreasen called for Farage's resignation as leader of the party.

May 2012

In the local elections, Ukip put up 691 candidates in around 2500 local council election contests. Their average % vote share (weighted according to total votes cast) was 13 per cent.

October 2012

David McNarry joined Ukip after being expelled from the Ulster Unionist Party, becoming Ukip's second representative in Northern Ireland alongside Henry Reilly, a councillor in Newry and Mourne.

November 2012

Ukip finished in second place in the Rotherham by-election, with 4,648 votes (21.7 per cent of the votes cast). This was the highest percentage share recorded by Ukip in any parliamentary election.

The party also came second in the Middlesbrough by-election and third in the Croydon North by-election, and all were held on the same day.

February 2013

In the Eastleigh by-election, the party's candidate Diane James polled the highest percentage (27.8 per cent) and number of votes (11,571) ever for a Ukip parliamentary candidate.

The party came second, 4.26 per cent (1,771 votes) behind the Liberal Democrats who retained the seat.

May 2013

In county council elections across England, Ukip achieved its best ever local government result, polling an average of 23 per cent in the wards where it stood and winning 147 councillors.

It gained in Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Kent, taking 15, 16 and 17 seats respectively. It was described as the best result for a party outside the big three in British politics since the Second World War.


September 2013

Ukip MEP Godfrey Bloom quits after joking that women who did not clean behind their fridges were "sluts". He added that he "felt for some time" that the party wasn't for him.

January 2014

Farage claims the party's 2010 general election manifesto was "drivel" and "nonsense". He added that they were revising the document and that "the idiot that wrote it has now left us and joined the Conservatives."

March 2014

Ofcom awards Ukip temporary "major party status" for the European Election, which would allow them the same number of party election broadcasts and airtime as the other three largest parties.

May 2014

Ukip received the largest number of votes (27.49 per cent) of any British party in the European Election and gained 11 extra MEPs, with a total of 24.

The party won seats in every British region, including its first in Scotland with the election of David Coburn, which Farage called a "breakthrough".

It was also the first time in more than a century that a party other than Labour or Conservatives won the most votes in a UK-wide election.

May 2014

In local elections, Ukip won 163 seats, an increase of 128, but did not take control of any council.

October 2014

Ukip's first ever elected MP is Douglas Carswell, who won a by-election triggered by his own defection from the Conservatives in Clacton with 21,113 overall votes.

November 2014

  Ukip won its second Westminster seat with former Tory MP Mark Reckless, who beat the Conservatives' candidate Kelly Tolhurst by 2,920 votes in the Rochester and Strood by-election.