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Summary

  1. UKIP's Mark Reckless won Rochester and Strood by-election, beating the Conservative Party by 2,920 votes
  2. Breakdown: UKIP - 16,867; Conservatives - 13,947; Labour - 6,713; Greens - 1,692; Lib Dems - 349
  3. Voters in Rochester and Strood voted on Thursday to choose a new Member of Parliament
  4. The vote came less than six months before the next general election
  5. Reckless visited Westminster on Friday morning and was sworn in as Rochester and Strood's MP

Live Reporting

By Mario Cacciottolo, Lauren Turner, Esther Webber and Megan Bramall

All times stated are UK

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So it's been a busy day in British politics, as former Tory MP Mark Reckless wins the by-election in Rochester and Strood for UKIP.

Mr Reckless said that if his party can win there, "we can win across the country". UKIP's leader, Nigel Farage, said he believed the number of seats that UKIP could win at the general election in May had "probably doubled".

Prime Minister David Cameron said he was "absolutely determined" to win the seat back for the Conservatives next year. Ed Miliband said the result was a "devastating" setback for Mr Cameron and he was determined to meet the challenge posed by UKIP.

Away from the action at the polls, shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry resigned from the Labour front bench after being accused of "sneering" by tweeting a photo of a Rochester house with England flags and a white van outside, prior to the vote.

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Meeshell Fooko

tweets: Deeply dispirited by the UKIP victory in #RochesterandStrood. I always hope people will be better than they prove to be

Here's a round up of how Friday's newspapers have been covering the events in Rochester and Strood.

Writing in

the Financial Times, Janan Ganesh said the Conservative party benches are "peppered with cranks, zealots and the flamboyantly disloyal".

The Guardian's political editor, Patrick Wintour, wrote that "the nature of by-elections is that they are of little intrinsic significance: their importance lies in their consequence".

In

the Independent, Oliver Wright wrote that: "Rochester was not considered fertile Ukip territory. The seat is more affluent, young and ethnically diverse than the seats Ukip has traditionally targeted and Mr Reckless did not have the same personal following as Douglas Carswell."

The Daily Mail said the Conservatives "tried to put a brave face on the defeat" but overall the result was "embarrassing for David Cameron" and "humiliating" for the Liberal Democrats.

Writing in

the Telegraph, senior political correspondent Christopher Hope reported that the win was "further evidence that Ukip's hold on British politics is strengthening".

And

the Mirror reported that David Cameron's "hopes of regaining Downing Street in May's general election are threatened by UKIP's surge in the polls".

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Glen Mitchell in Salford

tweets: Cameron's determination to resting and now win back #RochesterandStrood looks slightly obsessive and vindictive towards Mark Reckless.

BBC South East political editor Louise Stewart has been looking at the potential fall-out from the Rochester and Strood by-election.

She says: "If any of the main party leaders were complacent about UKIP before, they're certainly not now."

Her blog can be found

here.

One of the first senior Lib Dems to speak to the media, party president Tim Farron, quips that in his time on the doorstep in Rochester he probably met every Lib Dem voter there.

He admits the Lib Dems had a "frustrating" by-election, adding that "we couldn't get into the story" and voters had "boiled it down to two candidates".

But in comments to BBC Radio 4 he rejects the idea they should be pessimistic about the general election, saying politics is now "very fluid" and it's "highly unlikely" one party will form a government in 2015.

Tim Sculthorpe, parliamentary editor at the Press Association,

tweets: Emily Thornberry is at the bar of the House chatting to Labour MPs. Looks like commiserations rather than condemnations from here.

Mark Reckless sworn in
BBC

It is highly unusual for a by-election winner to be sworn in to the Commons on a Friday - as Mark Reckless was, hours after winning the Rochester and Strood seat for UKIP.

A House of Commons spokesman said the last time this happened was on February 17 1956, when Edward du Cann took his seat for Taunton.

The World At One has been asking Labour MPs for their reaction to the tweet by Emily Thornberry that led to her resignation.

Ian Austin, Labour MP for Dudley North, condemns her actions as "unbelievably unhelpful" because it gave the impression that Labour is "run by an out-of-touch metropolitan elite". He also stresses that the England flag "does not belong to the far-right".

Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman weighs in on the criticism, saying "it created a misperception of what Labour is about". She adds that the party has MPs and councillors "from all different backgrounds - we are of and for working-class areas".

Douglas Carswell (left) and Mark Reckless (right)
PA

BBC Radio 4 has also heard from UKIP MP Douglas Carswell - seen here out on the campaign trail with Mark Reckless earlier this month.

He insists people voted UKIP for a range of reasons and that the party only mentioned immigration "once" on its leaflets in the Rochester by-election.

The MP for Clacton describes his party as the only one which will deliver "fundamental reform".

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Dave Alcock from Kent

tweets: Michael Gove called #RochesterandStrood wipeout a "very good" result on #bbcdp. Wonder what a bad result looks like?

Also on The World At One, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin says he's "disappointed" at the result but that now the priority should be persuading people that the Conservatives "can deliver a strong economy".

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Chris Jones from Liverpool

tweets: Interested in relatively low turnout in #RochesterandStrood, only just over 50% with about 7k voters less than general election.

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen tells BBC Radio 4's The World At One the prime minister needs to renegotiate the terms of Britain's EU membership and, if that doesn't happen, to lead the campaign for a "No" vote in an in/out EU referendum.

He adds that he won't be the third Tory MP to defect.

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Amanda Brett from Yorkshire

tweets: I do wonder why more people didn't go and vote in #RochesterandStrood. Now they've got a UKIP MP! Makes no sense.

Extract from BBC visualisation of UK polling strength
BBC

In case you haven't seen it yet, there's a handy compilation of numbers, maps and tables charting UKIP's polling strength in different constituencies

now available here.

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Glyn Edwards from Wirral

tweets: Can't believe Monster Raving party got 151 votes in Rochester to Lib Dems 349! How Clegg is still leader is a joke! #RochesterandStrood

Veteran Labour MP Austin Mitchell says former shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry was "daft" to resign over a tweet and it showed that Ed Miliband was "motivated by panic".

He told the Huffington Post UK, her departure was "totally unnecessary" and the resulting furore was a "storm in a teacup".

Mr Mitchell, who plans to stand down from his Grimsby seat in 2015, said: "The leader has bigger things to worry about. He shouldn't have his acolytes running about getting people to resign over trivia."

Jonathan Sebire from Highgate

tweets: I'd like to see this list of 270 seats @UKIP are touting as, now presumably 'very', likely winnable seats. #RochesterandStrood

Ed Miliband
BBC

Speaking to the BBC while on a visit to a school, Ed Miliband says there are "wider lessons" to learn from this by-election.

"We know we've got a challenge in relation to UKIP. It's a challenge I'm determined to meet," he vows.

Asked how he would meet that challenge, Mr Miliband replies: "I think what it says is there is deep discontent about the country and there is also scepticism about whether any mainstream party can turn it around.

"Our fight, our job, is to show we can."

The BBC's Westminster team reports that the man whose house was photographed by Emily Thornberry in that controversial tweet is thought to be heading to the Labour MP's Islington constituency with a large flag.

Ed Miliband has also been speaking about the tweet sent by Labour's Emily Thornberry. He says it "conveyed a sense of disrespect" and "that's why I was so angry about it".

Mr Miliband says her intention "may not have been" to be disrespectful but adds: "I was angry because I thought her tweet gave a misleading impression, when she photographed the house in which the family lived, that somehow Labour had the wrong view of that family.

"It's not the view we have of that family. Labour's never had that view, of disrespect."

Labour leader Ed Miliband tells the BBC: "I think the most important thing about these results is that it was a devastating result for David Cameron."

He adds that in his view the Conservatives "lost and lost badly".

Also in that interview with Nick Robinson, Nigel Farage gave some more details about the policies his party would pursue.

He said he "obviously" favoured tax cuts, "particularly for the low paid, the idea that anyone earning minimum wage is paying income tax is crazy".

He denied he had ever spoken in favour of more privatisation of the NHS, adding he wanted to see fewer private companies involved in the NHS as it "hasn't worked - all it's done is transfer money out of public sector to make rich people richer".

Former Conservative - now UKIP - MP Douglas Carswell says the Conservative Party has plenty to ponder following the by-election result.

He said: "If the Conservative Party think that all is well then they've got an even bigger problem than the rest of the country thinks they've got.

"Britain today is a country where pretty much everything is run in the interests of vested interests. Politics, banking, the energy markets - they're all run by this self-serving little clique at the top."

Nigel Farage has told BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson he believes the number of seats UKIP can win in next year's general election has "probably doubled" following the by-election result in Rochester and Strood.

He refused to be drawn on whether UKIP would support David Cameron or Ed Miliband in any possible coalition agreement, saying UKIP would do a "deal with the devil" if it meant they could get what they want.

When asked if his party supported spending cuts or spending increases, the UKIP leader said: "Spending cuts and here's why; I think one of the real elephants room of British politics is that by at end of lifetime this parliament of national debt will have increased by 40%."

Ed Miliband's newly appointed campaign deputy, Lucy Powell, tells the Daily Politics that her colleague Emily Thornberry's tweet was "an insult" and although there were "question marks over what she wanted to say" her behaviour had been "unacceptable".

She rejected claims Labour was alienating its traditional base of working-class voters.

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Al Scott from Brighton

tweets: #Rochester Unintended mistake no doubt, but UKIP gain from common belief that Labour elite despise the very people they claim to represent.

Here's the moment veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner gave UKIP's new MP a hard time mere moments after he was sworn into the Commons. He passionately accused Mark Reckless and his UKIP colleague Douglas Carswell of wanting to deport foreigners.

Michael Gove
BBC

Continuing his interview on the Daily Politics, Mr Gove says voters were sending a message to the government that it needs to "sharpen up" and that the Conservatives have heard the message.

Asked if he did enough as chief whip to prevent Mr Reckless' defection, Mr Gove replies: "If people choose to say one thing and do another they say there's very little I - or anyone else - can do."

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Eddie Eldridge from Gloucestershire

tweets: One reality from #RochesterandStrood is that Tory pledges on Europe were simply not believed. Cameron needs to get that referendum rolling

Michael Gove, the government chief whip, tells the Daily Politics it was "a very good result - governments don't tend to win by-elections". He says "most dramatic thing has been the haemorrhaging of the main opposition party".

Following the Rochester and Strood by-election results, John Baron, MP for Basildon and Billericay, says the Tories are the only party to be trusted to hold an EU referendum.

"The fact remains that only the Conservatives are willing and able to deliver a much-needed in/out referendum after the next general election. The Labour and Liberal leaderships won't, and UKIP can't.

"Despite their many broken promises about referenda, Labour and the Liberals should be ashamed they arrogantly do not trust the electorate to make the right decision on this very important issue. A referendum is essential."

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Chris Jones from Liverpool

tweets: Interested in relatively low turnout in #RochesterandStrood, only just over 50% with about 7k voters less than general election.

Patrick O'Flynn
BBC

Patrick O'Flynn, UKIP MEP, is on the Daily Politics this lunchtime. He dismisses the idea that a vote for UKIP is a protest vote and people will revert to larger parties at the general election as "a comforting narrative".

Pressed on whether there will be further defections, Mr O'Flynn says: "I really don't know. I know there are MPs seriously considering their positions."

On the furore over Emily Thornberry's tweet, Seb Payne from the Spectator says Labour leader Ed Miliband's reaction seemed "panicked" because he was rushing "to do something not to seem weak", and it was not the right decision for her to leave her front bench post.

SNP MP Pete Wishart

tweets: My advice to the W'ster establishment parties is don't attack UKIP in the House like they do the SNP. It'll help them like it has helped us.

Seb Payne, online editor of the Spectator, tells BBC Radio 5 live the Conservatives "were always going to put that spin on it - that they haven't done as badly as expected", but points out conversely UKIP did not do as well as expected.

He predicts Mr Reckless "is going to struggle" in the 2015 as he doesn't have as great a margin of victory or as close a personal following as the other UKIP MP, Douglas Carswell.

Tory MP Mark Field tells the BBC that the situation was "disappointing" for the Conservatives.

He added: "In many ways, the appeal [of UKIP] isn't Europe or immigration alone, it's a cultural two fingers up to the entire political process. That's something all politicians have to be aware of."