Nigel Farage wins seat in UK parliament

CLACTON-ON-SEA, England (Reuters) -Nigel Farage, leader of the right-wing Reform UK party, won a seat in the British parliament for the first time on Friday in the seaside English town of Clacton-on-Sea, as voters deserted Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's Conservative Party.

Farage, whose career of anti-immigration, pro-Brexit campaigning has made him one of Britain's most recognisable and divisive political figures, comfortably beat the Conservative candidate Giles Watling who had previously held the seat.

His surprise entry into the election a month ago, having initially ruled out standing, boosted support for Reform UK across the country. That helped scupper Sunak's hopes of closing the gap on the centre-left Labour Party, which is on course for a huge national victory.

"There is a massive gap on the center right of British politics and my job is to fill it and that's exactly what I'm gonna do," Farage said after the result was announced.

"My plan is to build a mass national movement over the course of the next few years and hopefully be big enough to challenge the general election properly in 2029."

After seven unsuccessful attempts to win a seat in parliament, Friday's victory finally puts Farage, 60, inside a political institution he has spent decades railing against and will test his ability to deliver on promises to voters.

Reform UK was predicted to win 13 seats according to the exit poll - a tiny proportion of the 650 seats, but one which Farage hopes will give him a platform to usurp the Conservatives and become the main right-of-centre opposition to Labour.

"Believe me, folks, this is just the first step of something that is going to stun all of you," he said.

(Reporting by William James and Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by Alex Richardson and Kate Holton)