Referendum Party Claims Election Success
The Referendum Party claimed success at the polls, despite its leader Sir James Goldsmith losing his deposit in Putney.
Supporters celebrated their showing in the election after consistently picking up more than 1,000 votes in some key Tory marginals.
The billionaire Sir James took 1,518 votes in his election fight with the former Heritage Secretary, David Mellor, in the London constituency of Putney.
Sir James maintained that the returns coming in from around the country vindicated his insistence throughout the campaign that his party would put Europe high on the political agenda.
"We are a pressure group, we didn't seek power for ourselves at any time," he told the BBC.
"We wanted to break the unanimity of silence that existed and get a debate on Europe. It's the number one issue in this Election, it's become the European Election," he continued.
But Mr Mellor was scathing about the support for the Referendum Party.
The vote for Sir James was "derisory," he said. "Putney has said `Up your hacienda, Jimmy'. He can't buy the British political process."
Sir James' staff celebrated their success into the early hours this morning at a party at their Pimlico HQ. They claimed to have achieved an average of just under 2,000 votes in constituencies across the country, with 3-3.5% of the total vote.
Referndum Party managers insisted they had directly unseated several Tories.
However, figures showed they had little impact - even in areas where the Tories lost a significant number of votes.
The Referendum Party argued it had succeeded in its most important aim.
"We demanded that Europe was the most fundamental issue," said a party spokesman. "The Tory Party will never be able to heal itself until it comes to terms with the Referendum Party and the Conservative vision of Europe."
"The Conservative Party have been reduced to a minority English party," said the spokesman. "Sir James' position in British politics has increased quite considerably tonight."
Sir James thanked campaigners at a celebration at his Putney local headquarters, before returning home with his wife Lady Annabel and daughter Jemima.