TORY candidate Henry Smith has held onto Crawley, beating Labour's Chris Oxlade in a key swing seat. 

The incumbent MP won 22,829 votes compared to his nearest rival Mr Oxlade's 16,303, with UKIP coming third with 6,979 votes. 

Speaking at the election count at Crawley Leisure Centre, 45-year-old Mr Smith said it was an "honour and a privelege" to win. 

He offered his commiserations to Mr Oxlade, who he described as a "great citizen". 

Mr Smith increased his majority by around 500 votes, with Mr Oxlade blaming UKIP for splitting the vote and handing victory to the Tories. 

Ukip increased its number of votes by more than 5,000 on the last election, with its candidate Chris Brown hailing a "great result". 

He said it was "onwards and upwards" for UKIP in Crawley, adding even if party leader Nigel Farage did not get elected, there was "more to UKIP than just Nigel."

Mr Smith's victory in the swing seat bodes well for the Conservatives nationally, with exit polls suggesting the party will win 316 seats.

Liberal Democrat candidate Sarah Osborne, a councillor in Lewes, got 1,339 votes while the Green Party got 1,100.

Turnout was 66 percent, an increase on 65.4 per cent on the year before. 

Mr Smith had faced criticism during this campaign over his efforts to get a new hospital built in Crawley.

He told The Argus he would work to achieve that during the next parliament, and getting better education funding would also be a priority. 

Despite the result and Tory gains nationally, Labour council leader Peter Lamb said he was confident the council would remain in Labour control. 

Unlike in 2010 when its candidate won 1,672 votes, the British National Party did not enter the race this year. 

Nor was well-known local activist Arshard Khan among the choices on the ballot paper. 

Having contested more than 20 local elections for his own Justice Party, he won just 265 votes in 2010, but is standing to be a Bewbush councillor. 

The Argus: