VICTORIOUS Conservative candidate John Howell said he would be toasting his victory with Champagne after he retained his Henley seat with a huge 16,588 majority.

He said he was “over the moon” at the result in a seat which has been a Tory stronghold since the Second World War.

He said: “I will probably go home with my family, who I haven’t seen for four weeks really, and maybe have a quiet drink of some Champagne, which has been in the cupboard for almost as long as Henley has been Conservative.

“I’m very pleased. This is one of the largest majorities in the constituency for many years.”

Liberal Democrat Andy Crick came second with 13,466 votes, seeing his party’s share of the vote fall by 2.7 per cent. He said he was disappointed with the result.

Despite coming third, Labour’s Richard McKenzie was also cheering, after multiplying the party’s 2008 by-election result fivefold.

Eighteen months ago, Mr McKenzie lost his deposit and was beaten into fifth place by the Greens and the BNP.

He said: “The voters have come home to Labour and I feel on top of the world.

“We were never going to win. However, coming third is really pleasing, even though the BNP’s 1,000 votes are still 1,000 too many.”