Boris Johnson has won the London Mayoral election for the Tories, securing a second four year term at City Hall.
After a long and highly negative campaign which saw intense fighting with his Labour rival Ken Livingstone, Boris finally won with 1,054,811 votes or 55.26%.
Going into the election opinion polls had suggested that Boris would win easily, but the final result ended up being tighter than expected, with Livingstone securing 992,273 votes, or 44.74%.
Speaking after the result was announced, Johnson said he would continue to "fight for a good deal for Londoners".
"I will dedicate myself to making sure that Londoners and above all young Londoners are ready to take the jobs that this amazing city creates," he said.
Conceding defeat, Livingstone said: "this is the defeat I most regret" and said: "This is my last election."
Ken's team had been downplaying their chances of winning throughout the day, with a member of his team telling the London Evening Standard on Friday afternoon: "The polls are narrowing, but sadly I think not enough."
Still, the narrowing of the polls late on during the count caused a wave of excitement at City Hall - with Boris' team revealing they had packed up their belongings into boxes in case of a shock defeat.
The count also took on something of a farcical tone late on Friday evening amid reports some ballot boxes had not initially been counted.
In light of crushing defeats for the Conservative Party in local council elections in England and Wales on Thursday, Boris has bucked national trend.
He will almost certainly now be talked up as one of the most likely successors to David Cameron as party leader.
It was a miserable day for Lib Dem candidate Brian Paddick, who finished in fourth place with 91,774 votes behind Green candidate Jenny Jones who secured 98,913 votes.
It was a better day for independent candidate Siobhan Benita, who has polled remarkably well with 83,914 votes, well above both Ukip and the BNP.
Her substantial showing in the polls came despite being denied access to any of the televised hustings before the election - something she has vowed to campaign about in the months to come.
Ukip are blaming their distant fifth place on a mess-up within the party, because they failed to get their party's name on the ballot paper.
Their candidate, Lawrence Webb, was billed only as "Fresh Choice For London", much to the annoyance of party leader Nigel Farage.
Labour did manage to win the consolation prize of picking up two seats in the London Assembly, taking their total to eight and making them the largest party
They managed to inflict a blow on Boris by unseating his formal deputy Richard Barnes, who saw a massive to swing to Labour in his constituency.
Labour’s Dr Onkar Singh Sahota narrowly took the seat, although as with other areas in London there's been a highly schizophrenic pattern of voting, with people often voting for Boris as Mayor but for Labour assembly members.
There were signs of voter apathy across Britain - nine cities voted in referendums to reject the idea of having elected Mayors. Bristol, however, voted in favour of one and will hold a further election on who'll do the job in November.
Full coverage of today's local and mayoral elections:
Livingstone's defeat in London spoiled what was otherwise an excellent day for the Labour party, which inflicted heavy defeats on Tories and Lib Dems in council elections across England and Wales.
Labour gained more than 800 councillors - better than expected, with the Tories losing over 400 wards and the Lib Dems shedding over 300.
The party also saw off an SNP challenge for Glasgow Council, defying expectations that they would lose control. Instead the SNP polled worse than expected across the country.
Tonight Boris Johnson will be partying at Conservative Headquarters in central London, whether David Cameron will be in such a festive mood is much less clear.
05/05/2012 00:34 BST
41-hours after polls opened Boris is mayor and we can all go to bed
So over 41 hours after polls opened on Thursday morning, Boris Johnson is mayor of London and we can all go to bed to dream analytical dreams about what the results mean for the country.
04/05/2012 22:45 BST
London Elects: 'Several Hundred' votes to be manually checked
Probable ETA of a declaration is about an hour, hopefully less (please)
04/05/2012 22:44 BST
Statement on the count delays from London Elects...
London Elects statement:
We have results in from 13 of the 14 constituencies in the Mayor of London and London Assembly election.
The final constituency is Brent & Harrow. The Greater London Returning Officer has been in touch with the CRO for Brent & Harrow to establish the reason for a delay.
All batches of ballot papers were registered and scanned. Two batches went to storage without some ballot papers being manually entered as required. Manual entry is required when a scanner cannot read a ballot paper – for example if a ballot paper is damaged. It is not an issue with the scanners.
The issue was identified during the verification stage. These two batches are being re-processed. To make this happen as quickly as possible we have separated out into several smaller batches. This is why the progress screens appear to show a changing number of verified ballot papers.
We will declare as soon as possible but it is obviously important that every vote is counted.
04/05/2012 22:29 BST
What's happening at City Hall?
Well we don't entirely know. The latest is that at least two ballot boxes were found unscanned at the Brent count, and they're now being counted by hand, for some reason.
There are rumours that Ken's team has asked for a full recount in Brent, which would delay things for another few hours.
London elects thinks it'll be only another 20 mins, but they've been saying that for nearly two hours.
04/05/2012 19:44 BST
YouGov are calling it for Boris..
@ tnewtondunn :
The Sun's pollster Peter Kellner of YouGov calls it - "Boris has won. He has too big a lead for Ken to overturn".
04/05/2012 18:24 BST
Ken-supporting constituencies now coming in...
It's leading to a sharp narrowing in the polls between the two candidates. On 1st preference votes Boris now has 44% and Ken 40% - 8 out of 14 constituencies have now declared.
04/05/2012 17:07 BST
London Mayoral Vote Getting Tight...
Here's the latest.
People are talking about 50/50 odds between Ken and Boris. The atmosphere at City Hall has changed dramatically in the past half hour.
04/05/2012 16:40 BST
Ed Miliband: We're coming back
Ed Miliband, speaking in Southampton, has declared that Labour is "coming back".
This comes after Labour took control of Southampton from the Conservatives.
He railed against the "out of touch government in Westminster".
"David Cameron promised change, not for the better but for the worse. Today in Southampton, it is a rejection of the economic failure of this government, and the unfairness of this government". he added
He also boasted that Labour is "beating back" the SNP in Scotland.
He recognised the low turnouts, saying it showed there was "still more to do".
04/05/2012 16:35 BST
Peter Bone MP - 'This is the beginning of the end of the coalition'
Conservative MP Peter Bone has said that the PM has 'one hand tied behind his back'.
"Worst of all, we've got the Liberals holding us back" he added
The results signified the "beginning of the end of the coalition", he told the BBC.
"We're seeing Boris winning as a Conservative in London, yet the Coalition losing against Labour. So the message must be let's come out of this coalition as soon as possible." he said
04/05/2012 16:25 BST
Liam Byrne optimistic despite Birmingham no vote
Liam Byrne, who quit the Shadow Cabinet in preparation for running for Birmingham Mayor, has just tweeted this
@ LiamByrneMP :
A huge thanks to ALL who supported Yes2Mayor, Albert and me: our job now is to get 4-square behind our brilliant new Lbr council #brummayor
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