British Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative party was pushed into third place behind the anti-European Union UK Independence Party (UKIP) in a single parliamentary seat vote won by the opposition Labour party.
The result underlined the threat that UKIP, which wants Britain to leave the EU and an end to “open-door immigration”, poses to the Conservatives and other parties ahead of a national election next year.
Thursday’s vote for a seat in northern England, one of 650 in parliament’s lower house, was the first electoral test this year ahead of European Parliament elections in May and next year’s general election.
Opinion polls have shown that UKIP is on course to beat the Conservative Party in the European elections too, and to split the centre-right vote next year.
The Wythenshawe and Sale East seat on the outskirts of Manchester is regarded as a safe seat for the opposition Labour party. The vote was triggered by the death of the incumbent Labour member of parliament last month.
Labour won with 13,261 votes, while second-placed UKIP received 4,301 votes and the Conservatives came third on 3,479 votes.