Mark Reckless wins Rochester by-election with 2,900 majority

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UKIP’s Mark Reckless has become the party’s second elected MP after winning at the Rochester and Strood by-election.

Mr Reckless defected from the Conservatives to UKIP in September, having been elected to Parliament in May 2010.

He won in Rochester with at 2,930 majority, gathering 16,867 votes, ahead of Tory candidate Kelly Tolhurst, who had 13,947 votes.

He announced his defection at UKIP’s autumn conference, following in the footsteps of former Tory Douglas Carswell, who became UKIP’s first elected MP in October.

Mr Carswell retained his Clacton seat with an increased majority.

The victory coincided with UKIP leader Nigel Farage making one of his most offensive statements of the year, declaring that migrants living with HIV should be banned from entering Britain.

Douglas Carswell, whose father was one of the first doctors to identify HIV in Uganda, appeared uncomfortable with the position and attempted to downplay the row without criticising his new leader.

Unlike Mr Carswell, who described it as “arrogant”, Mark Reckless voted in favour of same-sex marriage last year, a position that puts him at odds with many of his UKIP colleagues.

Nigel Farage has continued to oppose the reform – despite briefly suggesting in a PinkNews Q&A this summer that his position had changed.

In September, Mr Farage said he thought the debate which led to same-sex marriage becoming legal in England and Wales was “not particularly needed”.

The UKIP leader has pinned his opposition on the fear that the European Court of Human Rights could prosecute registrars and churches for refusing to marry same-sex couples.

The UK Government, human rights groups and lawyers have repeatedly rejected such claims, pointing to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act’s “triple lock” safeguards.