The Conservatives have retained the seat of Southend West in a parliamentary by-election prompted by the fatal stabbing of MP Sir David Amess.
Anna Firth won with 12,792 votes in a contest that saw a low turnout of 24%.
The election was not contested by Labour, the Liberal Democrats or the Greens.
Jason Pilley of the Psychedelic Movement came second with 512 votes. UKIP’s Steve Laws was third with 400.
There were 1,084 spoilt ballot papers.
Sir David was attacked during a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea on 15 October.
Ali Harbi Ali, 25, from Kentish Town in north London, denies his murder and is due to stand trial next month.
In her victory speech, Ms Firth paid tribute to Sir David, who had represented the seat for 24 years, describing him as a “truly exceptional MP”.
The barrister from Leigh-on-Sea vowed to “work tirelessly to build on everything” achieved by him during his lengthy tenure.
“It is the honour of my life to represent the people of Southend West and the place where I was born,” she said.
“He was a friend to all and had a huge impact on everyone who lives here.
“For Sir David’s family and his friends… [this] will be a sad and painful day and I would like to pay tribute to Lady Amess and their children.
“We are thinking of you”.
The PA Media news agency said it had seen a number of the spoilt ballot papers containing messages directed against Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
One featured the comment “Boris do a Brexit – get out”, while another member of the electorate scrawled “Get Boris out”.
Mr Johnson is under scrutiny over the “partygate” controversy following gatherings at Downing Street during lockdowns, while four of his senior aides resigned on Thursday.
The turnout of 24% was just below that of the Batley and Spen by-election in 2016, which was held in similar circumstances after Labour MP Jo Cox was killed.
The other major parties did not stand against the Labour candidate who succeeded her.
In an interview with BBC Essex, Ms Firth said subjects raised by voters during her campaign included “night flights, knife crime, litter” and “all sorts of local issues” but not the growing pressure on the prime minister.
“This isn’t the number one issue on the doorsteps and it isn’t my number one focus,” she said.
“I have got to get my feet under the table and work out how I can best deliver for people here. It’s way above my pay grade as the newest MP, literally hours old, to be speculating about what’s happening at the top of the Conservative Party.”
On the subject of spoilt ballot papers, she said that “you would expect a high number of spoilt ballots in an election where there is actually no left wing candidate standing at all”.
Full by-election results:
- Anna Firth (Conservative Party) – 12,792 (86.10% of vote)
- Jason Pilley (Psychedelic Movement) – 512 (3.45%)
- Steve Laws (UKIP) – 400 (2.69%)
- Catherine Blaiklock (English Democrats) – 320 (2.15%)
- Jayda Fransen (Independent) – 299 (2.01%)
- Ben Downton (Heritage Party) – 236 (1.59%)
- Christopher Anderson (Freedom Alliance) – 161 (1.08%)
- Graham Moore (English Constitution Party) – 86 (0.58%)
- Olga Childs (Independent) – 52 (0.35%)
Turnout: 14,858 (24% of the electorate of 66,462, if spoilt ballot papers are added)
The Southend West seat has been held by the Conservatives since it was created for the 1950 general election.
In the December 2019 general election, when all the main parties stood, Sir David had a majority of 14,459 – securing 59.2% on a turnout of 67.4%.
Labour came second with 28.1%; the Lib Dems were third with 11.4%.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has sent his congratulations to the newest MP.
In a tweet, he said: “I look forward to welcoming you to Parliament next week and working together to deliver for the people of Southend West.”
Congratulations @Anna_Firth, I look forward to welcoming you to Parliament next week and working together to deliver for the people of Southend West.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) February 4, 2022
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter
Oliver Dowden, chairman of the Conservative Party, who had been out campaigning with Ms Firth, was also among those congratulating her on Twitter.
By Simon Dedman, BBC East political reporter
It is no surprise the Conservatives hung on with a large majority in Southend West, given the absence of the other main parties.
Turnout at just 24% was one of the lowest for a Westminster by-election since World War Two, while the number of spoilt ballot papers rose four-fold to more than 1,000 – a figure higher than the number of votes any of the minor parties and independent candidates attracted.
Some chose to write messages including “Boris do a Brexit – get out” – a sign that events in Westminster have played out here at the polls.
But when I asked Ms Firth if she would be taking some of the messages to Prime Minister Boris Johnson when she was in Westminster next week, she said her job was now to “focus on local priorities”.
There will be no letter of no confidence in the prime minister from her. She backs Boris Johnson and says she is going to be focussing on making the most of Southend’s impending city status.
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