IT was a record-breaking night in one of the country’s youngest constituencies as Mark Francois romped home on the back of an all-time high turnout.

The Conservative, who has served as Rayleigh and Wickford’s MP since the constituency was created in 2010 and previously held the Rayleigh seat, finished with a 23,450 majority, up from 17,230 in 2015.

Labour’s Mark Daniels came in second with 13,464 votes, relegating last election’s runners-up, Ukip, to third place.

Speaking after the vote, in which 70.55 per cent of the 78,556-strong electorate turned out, Mr Francois thanked his family, supporters and voters.

He said: “I’m delighted to be returned with a record majority for me. I’m very grateful to my constituents for placing their faith in me to continue representing them in the House of Commons.

“I will be at the Holy Trinity fair on Sunday and will be back at my desk on Monday.”

Mr Francois also thanked the police officers present and made reference to the Rochford and Southend East constituency vote, which had earlier descended into farce after the Green party candidate was escorted from the premises.

He said: "I would like to thank the police for keeping us safe. I have heard that one of the candidates elsewhere had slightly too many sherbets and had to be escorted from the count by a police officer."

Mr Francois refused to be drawn on the crisis gripping the Tory party as a result of its overall poor performance.

He said: “At this stage of the morning most of the results have not come in. It is going to be much later on Friday morning before we see the overall picture.”

Mr Daniels, who was standing for Parliament for the first time, told his team he had “never been prouder” to work with such a “dedicated group”.

He said: “Firstly I’d like to thank Mr Francois on his victory tonight.

"The democratic process is one of the most important aspects of our society, and it’s heartening to know that Rayleigh and Wickford have had such an incredible turnout.

“I believe in Labour’s manifesto, I believe that things need to change, that we face inequalities and injustices that any civilised nation should never tolerate. I believed that we owed it to the people of our constituency to fight against those injustices.

“We’ve given a voice to thousands of residents in Rayleigh and Wickford, thousands who agree that we need to start looking at things differently, that the Conservative obsession with cuts and austerity is more harmful than helpful.”

Mr Daniels hinted that he might stand again at the next election.

Peter Smith, standing for Ukip, came third with 2,326. The party took 11,858 votes at the election in 2015, suggesting the party is now a spent force in the constituency.

Ron Tindall, for the Liberal Democrats, came fourth with 1,557 votes and Paul Hill, Green candidate, won 1,062 votes.

In total, 55,422 people turned out to vote.

For all Essex results click HERE