UK Politics

Elections 2016: Nigel Farage hails UKIP's 'breakthroughs'

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Media captionUKIP's leader said his party was "making breakthroughs in Wales".

UKIP leader Nigel Farage hailed "breakthroughs" following a series of gains made by his party during the UK-wide local and assembly elections.

After 113 results out of 124 councils, UKIP has 55 seats so far, a gain of 26.

It won six seats on Thurrock Council and just missed out on being the largest party by a single vote.

Ex-Tory MPs Neil Hamilton and Mark Reckless were among seven gains on the Welsh Assembly, and UKIP came second in two Westminster by-elections.

It was beaten by Labour in Ogmore, in South Wales, and Sheffield Brightside in South Yorkshire.

But it gained two seats on the London Assembly, for David Kurten and mayoral candidate Peter Whittle, from the London-wide top-up list, where it came fourth with 171,069 votes, its best performance in London for some years.

Mr Farage told Sky his party was "really biting hard" into Labour's vote and was "the third biggest party now in the United Kingdom by a country mile".

Image caption Neil Hamilton won a seat on the Welsh Assembly

He added: "There will be many people who see Jeremy Corbyn's Labour as more extreme than UKIP by a country mile."

Mr Hamilton, who was a Conservative MP for Tatton from 1983 until being voted out in 1997 after becoming embroiled in the cash for questions controversy, admitted Mr Farage had opposed him standing for UKIP.

"Well, there's no secret about that, but Nigel is a democrat and I was selected by the overwhelming vote of the party members in Wales for a winnable place on the Assembly list," he told BBC Radio 4's World At One.

"We will all work together as a team regardless of things that have divided us hitherto."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Derrick Fellowes (centre) won the seat for Nethermayne ward in Basildon, Essex

Labour's shadow defence secretary Emily Thornberry acknowledged UKIP was hitting her party's vote.

"I think it has been recognised that UKIP are challenging us," she said. "I think that is a deep worry."

Mr Farage also tweeted that UKIP's progress in Wales justified the amount of money he had spent travelling there to campaign in the Welsh Assembly elections.

Polling expert Professor John Curtice said UKIP's vote in Wales was simply maintaining the level that the party achieved in 2015.

Among its other gains around the country, the Eurosceptic party gained two seats in Bolton, where its total reached five.

In Havant, the party gained seats from Labour in wards that the party has not previously contested at all.

In Derby, UKIP gained Alvaston from Labour, defeating deputy mayor Mark Titley.

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