Britain's anti-EU UKIP party won its second seat in parliament on Friday, defeating Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives in a special election six months before what is shaping up to be a closely-fought national vote.
The victory for UKIP, the UK Independence Party, will unsettle businesses, investors and European partners who fear Britain could be slipping towards an exit from the European Union.
UKIP favors an immediate British EU exit and sharply lower immigration. Mark Reckless, UKIP's candidate, was a Conservative lawmaker until he defected in September.
Reckless won 16,867 votes or just over 42 percent of the vote in the south-eastern English constituency of Rochester and Strood giving him a majority of 2,920. Cameron's Conservatives came second with 13,947 votes. Labor came third with 6,713 votes. The overall turnout was 50.67 percent.
UKIP's success highlights the threat it poses to Cameron in a national election in May 2015 and its ability to split the mainstream Conservative party's vote casting a cloud over its re-election prospects.
"Rochester and Strood was our 271st most winnable seat," Reckless said after the results were announced. "If we can win here we can win across the country."
The loss is a serious blow to Cameron after he ordered his party to mobilize all its resources to hold Rochester and visited the area five times himself before Thursday's ballot.