Clacton: Conservative’s Priti Patel MP admits UKIP are stealing votes from her party

The Election count at the Princes Theatre in the Town Hall in Clacton.

The Election count at the Princes Theatre in the Town Hall in Clacton. - Credit: Archant

Witham MP Priti Patel says the Conservatives will need to “win back” seats like Clacton in May if they lose tonight if they want a majority come the general election.

When asked whether the mood on the counting floor was for an either way result Ms Patel would not be drawn on the likely outcome.

She said: “We have spent hours going around with the clipboards looking at numbers. I think the main thing is we know we have worked hard, we have had a good campaign and an outstanding candidate in Giles Watling, who I think as a local representative has fought a strong, solid campaign on the issues that matter to the local community.

“It is fair to say the choice here is between Conservative and UKIP, I don’t think it is about any other parties.

“I am not going to pre-judge.

“What we have seen from Heywood & Middleton [another by-election happening tonight] is that it’s pretty clear UKIP are turning votes from the Conservatives or conservative-minded voters and that is really off this by-election.

“But voting for UKIP will be voting for Ed Miliband and a Labour government in May.

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“We are very clear we will fight the general election to win a Conservative majority, and to do that we will need to win seats like Clacton back if we lose tonight.

“But come the general election it becomes about a clear choice – who do you want for prime minister? It will be between Ed Miliband and David Cameron, and a vote for UKIP will be a vote for Ed Miliband and a Labour government.”

For live coverage of the Clacton by-election count click here.