The Conservative Party has conceded defeat in the Rochester & Strood by-election.
The Tories believe they have “no chance of victory”, according to party sources cited by Sky News.
Almost immediately after polls closed at 10pm, reports began to surface that the Tories had privately admitted defeat.
Polling data all points towards a comfortable win for Ukip candidate Mark Reckless, with Ukip ahead by nine to 15 points.
Reckless’ defection from the Tories to Ukip in September sparked the by-election. He argues that if Ukip wins tonight, two further Conservative MPs will jump ship.
Ukip leader Nigel Farage was coy when asked about his party’s chances, but he did trump up the magnitude of the by-election, describing it as the most important in 30 years.
A win for [Mark] Reckless tonight, here, will change British politics in ways that I can’t necessarily think through now. It throws the whole thing up in the air.The really significant thing that’s happening today is that Ukip could be on the verge of winning what was - according to the experts - our 271st target seat.If we win here today, the important thing is it shows people if you vote Ukip you get Ukip, and frankly if Ukip win in Rochester, next year’s general election is completely impossible to call.