Ukip leader Nigel Farage has lost his election count in South Thanet and resigned from the leadership of the party.
Farage had previously vowed to give up the UKIP leadership if he failed to win this poll. Today he was as good as his word.
Last August Mr Farage said: “I’m not pretending for one moment that [winning] is going to be easy, but UKIP is offering something different and distinctive.”
Tempting fate, he’d added: “If we’d failed in the European elections I would have stood down, if we fail next year the party will pick someone better than me, but do you know what? That ain’t going to happen.”
Much to the satisfaction of Mr Mackinlay, who just hours earlier had strode purposefully into the venue to greet his destiny, it did happen. Despite rumours of an extremely close result, Mackinlay was able to secure a comfortable victory in the form of 18,838 votes to Mr Farage’s 16,026. Labour’s Will Scoby came a distant third with 11740 votes.
In his victory speech, Mr Mackinlay told a jubilant audience “I would most like to thank the voters of South Thanet. The Conservatives want to offer a positive and optimistic vision for the future.”
He also promised to work to reopen nearby Manston airport, an important local issue, before adding “This country has not experienced an earthquake, nor even a minor quiver. The message from South Thanet is loud and clear: the Conservatives have a positive vision for the future of our country. We’re not just protesting, but getting things done. There’s no need for Nigel Farage, and no need for UKIP.”
Taking next to the podium, Mr Farage said “Five years ago I was in intensive care after a plane crash. Compared to that, this feels pretty damned good! There has been an earthquake – it was north of the border.
“I saw another shift for UKIP – it has become a party for young working women. We believe that Britain needs to get back it’s democracy from Brussels. But we have a party who won 50% in one region and got nearly 100% of the vote, and another that won as many votes as we did in the European election, but got only one.
“There will be real genuine radical political reform; it will be UKIP that delivers it.
“On a personal level, I feel an enormous weight has been lifted from my shoulders, and I never felt happier.”
Overall, UKIP increased its share of the vote massively, securing more than 3,380,000 votes nationally, and coming third in the popular vote. But the party has been plagued by the inability to translate those votes into seats, returning just one MP, Douglas Carswell, to Westminster.
Senior UKIP member Tom Bursnall told Breitbart London “It’s been a night of mixed fortunes. UKIP have had a massive surge, coming second in dozens of seats up and down the country. However the fear of a hard left coalition of Labour and the SNP has made UKIP voters take a cold shower in key marginals. Couple that with the harsh demands of the first past the post voting system and we are left with millions of votes but sparse representation in Westminster.”
His colleague, former European Candidate Shneur Odze, said: “In quadrupling our vote share, becoming the opposition of choice to Labour in the north and the Conservatives in the south, UKIP has made a great leap forward.
“UKIP’s message chimed with millions of Britons who feel locked out, and who want to see real reform of our way of government. I look forward to working towards UKIPs continued growth.”