Sussex tories have welocomed the election of Iain Duncan Smith as the Conservative Party's new leader.

The eurosceptic Mr Duncan Smith convincingly saw off the europhile Kenneth Clarke winning 61 per cent of the vote.

In the two horse race Mr Duncan Smith polled 155,933 votes to Mr Clarke's 100,864 on a 79 per cent turnout of 256,797 Tory members.

A Conservative spokesman said the result was a "ringing endorsement" of Mr Duncan Smith.

West Worthing MP Peter Bottomley, who had backed Michael Ancram, told The Argus last night: "We must all congratulate Iain Duncan Smith.

"The 40 per cent who voted for Kenneth Clarke will, I hope, all help to make the Conservative party successful at national and local level. Iain Duncan Smith is not expected to be a right-wing sectarian."

Howard Flight, MP for Arundel and South Downs, had backed Mr Duncan Smith. He said: "I am very pleased with the result and I think he is very much the man to lead the party.

"I was absolutely behind him. Everyone here is quite sombre because of Tuesday's tragedy but the fact the result is decisive is important."

Geoffrey Theobald, Conservative councillor for Patcham, said: "I think it was expected that Iain Duncan Smith would win. People thought he was more in tune with the party's thinking.

"I have every confidence in him and am pleased for him. He has my support and I think he will have a united party."

Coun Brian Oxley, Opposition leader on Brighton and Hove City Council, voted for Mr Duncan Smith and welcomed his appointment.

He said: "He will be formidable in the Commons and the country.

"Under his leadership, I look forward to our winning control of the city council in 2003.

"I was greatly pleased that he has stressed the importance of issues such as the environment and housing which are important in Brighton and Hove."