Nigel Farage has claimed Ukip would have won the Eastleigh by-election had the campaign been just one week longer, after a late surge saw the party leapfrog the Tories into second place.

Writing for The Huffington Post UK following his party's humiliation of David Cameron, Farage said it was a "truly spectacular result" that was "really the start of something".

He claimed that had the Lib Dems not been able to get a substantial number of postal votes in the bag ahead of polling day his candidate Diane James would now be the Ukip's first elected MP.

"It is my belief that without a doubt we won the vote on the day," he said. "We were not able to get to the postal voters in time and perhaps this is where we lost valuable support and where the Lib Dem campaign was on point.

He added: "One more week and I think it's fair to surmise that Ukip would have grabbed the first seat in Westminster."

However the Lib Dem's strongly deny the claim. "We won in postal votes and we won on the day," a spokesperson said.

Thornton who won the by-election - triggered by the resignation of disgraced ex-Cabinet minister Chris Huhne - with 13,342 votes, a majority of 1,771 over Ukip's Diane James.

Following Huhne's resignation, the Lib Dems moved quickly to hold the ballot, calculating the strength of their local party in Eastleigh and well-oiled by-election machine would be best suited to a short campaign.

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SEE ALSO: Crisis For Cameron As Ukip Beat Tories And Lib Dems Win

WATCH: Hutchings' Bizarre Exit From Eastleigh Count

NICE TRY: Conservatives Spin Loss As Victory For Coalition

SEE ALSO: Tory Leadership Deny Gay Marriage Cost Them Election

MISSED CHANCE? Would Farage Have Won?

The Lib Dems held off a late surge by the UK Independence Party (Ukip) to win the by-election in the early hours of this morning, but the prime minister was dealt a serious blow as the Conservatives were pushed into third place.

Clegg said that last night's result "emphatically" proved wrong the critics who claimed that as a result of his decision to go into coalition with Tories in 2010, the Lib Dems would "lose our soul, lose our values, lose our identity, lose our ability to win".

"For the Liberal Democrats, my view is the message is very simple: we can be a party of government and still win," he said.

"My ambition has always been to lead our party from opposition into being a party of government, but not just that, into becoming a winning party of government."

Loading Slideshow...
  • Eastleigh by-election

    The Liberal Democrat candidate Mike Thornton celebrates (left) after the declaration at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where he won the by-election. Left to right: Mike Thornton, Lib Dem, John O'Farrell, Labour, Danny Stupple, Independent and Diane James, UKIP.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    The Monster Raving Loony Party candidate congratulates the Liberal Democrat candidate Mike Thornton and his wife Peta as they arrive to hear the declaration at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where it was expected Thornton will be announced the winner of the by-election.

  • Liberal Democrats Hold On In Eastleigh; UKIP Tops Conservatives

    EASTLEIGH, HAMPSHIRE - MARCH 01: Liberal Democrat candidate Mike Thornton celebrates his win with party leader Nick Clegg at the Hampshire Cricket County on March 1, 2013 in Eastleigh, Hampshire. The Liberal Democrat party managed to retain the seat of ex-Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne however UKIP managed to beat the Conservatives to second place. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • Liberal Democrats Hold On In Eastleigh; UKIP Tops Conservatives

    EASTLEIGH, HAMPSHIRE - MARCH 01: Liberal Democrat candidate Mike Thornton celebrates his win with party leader Nick Clegg at the Hampshire Cricket County on March 1, 2013 in Eastleigh, Hampshire. The Liberal Democrat party managed to retain the seat of ex-Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne however UKIP managed to beat the Conservatives to second place. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • Liberal Democrats Hold On In Eastleigh; UKIP Tops Conservatives

    EASTLEIGH, HAMPSHIRE - MARCH 01: Liberal Democrat candidate Mike Thornton celebrates his win with party leader Nick Clegg at the Hampshire Cricket County on March 1, 2013 in Eastleigh, Hampshire. The Liberal Democrat party managed to retain the seat of ex-Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne however UKIP managed to beat the Conservatives to second place. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • Liberal Democrats Hold On In Eastleigh; UKIP Tops Conservatives

    EASTLEIGH, HAMPSHIRE - MARCH 01: Liberal Democrat candidate Mike Thornton celebrates his win with party leader Nick Clegg at the Hampshire Cricket County on March 1, 2013 in Eastleigh, Hampshire. The Liberal Democrat party managed to retain the seat of ex-Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne however UKIP managed to beat the Conservatives to second place. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • Liberal Democrats Hold On In Eastleigh; UKIP Tops Conservatives

    EASTLEIGH, HAMPSHIRE - MARCH 01: Liberal Democrat candidate Mike Thornton celebrates his win with party leader Nick Clegg at the Hampshire Cricket County on March 1, 2013 in Eastleigh, Hampshire. The Liberal Democrat party managed to retain the seat of ex-Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne however UKIP managed to beat the Conservatives to second place. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • Eastleigh by-election

    Diane James, the UKIP candidate with Mike Thornton after beating the Conservative party candidate Maria Hutchings into third place in the by-election at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    Diane James, the UKIP candidate celebrates after beating the Conservative party candidate Maria Hutchings into third place in the by-election at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire. Left to right: Mike Thornton, Lib Dem, John O'Farrell, Labour and Danny Stupple, Independent.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    The Conservative party candidate Maria Hutchings leaves the count at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire without making a coment after caming third after the Lib Dems and UKIP in the by-election.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    The Liberal Democrat candidate Mike Thornton celebrates with his wife Peta after the declaration at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where he won the by-election.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    The Conservative party candidate Maria Hutchings at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where she came third after the Lib Dems and UKIP in the by-election.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    Prime Minister David Cameron and Conservative candidate Maria Hutchings leaflet drop residential homes, before the imminent by-election in Eastleigh, Hampshire. The by-election has been called as its former MP, Chris Huhne, resigned after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice over claims his ex-wife took speeding points for him in 2003.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    Chancellor George Osborne wears a high visibility jacket as he makes a visit to the Prysmian Group factory and speaks to (L- R) employee Raj Guru, factory manager Steve Price, CEO Paul Atkinson and Conservative candidate Maria Hutchings in the constituency of Eastleigh, Hampshire. The Conservative party minister visit to the energy and telecom cable maker was to meet the party's candidate Hutchings ahead of the Eastleigh by-election on February 28 to elect a new MP, after Chris Huhne was forced to resign.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    The Liberal Democrat candidate Mike Thornton kisses his wife Peta as they arrive to hear the expected declaration at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where it was expected he will be announced the winner of the by-election.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    The Liberal Democrat candidate Mike Thornton and his wife Peta arrive to hear the expected declaration at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where it was expected he will be announced the winner of the by-election.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    The Liberal Democrat candidate Mike Thornton and his wife Peta arrive to hear the declaration at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where it was expected he will be announced the winner of the by-election.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    The Liberal Democrat candidate Mike Thornton celebrates with his wife Peta (centre) and family after the declaration at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where he won the by-election.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    The Liberal Democrat candidate Mike Thornton hugs his wife Peta as they arrive to hear the declaration at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where it was expected he will be announced the winner of the by-election.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    The Monster Raving Loony Party candidate congratulates the Liberal Democrat candidate Mike Thornton and his wife Peta as they arrive to hear the declaration at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where it was expected Thornton will be announced the winner of the by-election.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    The Liberal Democrat candidate Mike Thornton and his wife Peta arrive to hear the declaration at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where it was expected he will be announced the winner of the by-election.

  • Liberal Democrats Hold On In Eastleigh; UKIP Tops Conservatives

    EASTLEIGH, HAMPSHIRE - MARCH 01: Liberal Democrat candidate Mike Thornton celebrates his win with party leader Nick Clegg at the Hampshire Cricket County on March 1, 2013 in Eastleigh, Hampshire. The Liberal Democrat party managed to retain the seat of ex-Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne however UKIP managed to beat the Conservatives to second place. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • Eastleigh by-election

    The Liberal Democrat candidate Mike Thornton celebrates (left) after the declaration at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where he won the by-election. Left to right: Mike Thornton, Lib Dem, John O'Farrell, Labour, Danny Stupple, Independent and Diane James, UKIP.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    The first ballot boxes arrive for counting at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where the by-election was held today.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    Conservative supporters share a packet of mints while waiting for the declaration at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where the by-election was held today.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    The first ballot boxes arrive for counting at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where the by-election was held today.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    The first ballot boxes arrive for counting at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where the by-election was held today.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    Labour leader Ed Miliband speaks to former Liberal Democrat voters during his visit Eastleigh in Hampshire where he met prospective parliamentary candidate John O' Farrell (right) during the by-election campaign.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    A general view of the ballot papers being counted at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where the by-election was held today.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    The first ballot boxes arrive for counting at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where the by-election was held today.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    A general view of the ballot papers being counted at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where the by-election was held today.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    The first ballot boxes arrive for counting at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where the by-election was held today.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    The first ballot boxes arrive for counting at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where the by-election was held today.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    The first ballot boxes arrive for counting at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where the by-election was held today.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    The first ballot boxes arrive for counting at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where a by-election was held today.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    The first ballot boxes arrive for counting at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where a by-election was held today.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    The first ballot boxes arrive for counting at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where a by-election was held today.

  • Eastleigh by-election

    The first ballot boxes arrive for counting at Fleming Park in Eastleigh, Hampshire where a by-election was held today.

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