Nigel Farage, left, leader of the U.K. Independence Party, shakes hands with Mark Reckless, the former Conservative Party MP for Rochester and Strood, during the by-election ballot count at Medway Park in Gillingham, England, on Nov. 21, 2014
Suzanne Plunkett—Reuters
By Rishi Iyengar
November 21, 2014

The U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) struck another significant blow to British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday, winning its second parliamentary seat in two months from a constituency that Cameron had vowed to win at any cost.

Mark Reckless, who joined UKIP from Cameron’s Conservative Party, won the Rochester and Strood by-election that was triggered by his defection by 2,920 votes, the Guardian reported.

UKIP continues to extend its influence over the voters six months before the British general elections, in what many say is a worrying sign for Cameron’s leadership. Cameron’s humiliation is compounded by the fact that he went all-out to secure a victory, demanding three visits to Rochester from his MPs and going there five times himself.

“Whichever constituency, whatever your former party allegiance, think of what it would mean to have a bloc of UKIP MPs at Westminster large enough to hold the balance of power,” Reckless said in his victory speech. “If you believe in an independent Britain, then come with us and we will give you back your country.”

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said Friday’s “massive” victory makes next year’s elections anybody’s game. “All bets are off, the whole thing’s up in the air,” he said.

Write to Rishi Iyengar at rishi.iyengar@timeasia.com.

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