Britain's leading politicians took time out from the election trail on Saturday (2 May) to send their best wishes to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, after Duchess Kate gave birth to a girl.

The royal family's newest member was born at 8.34am, some 2-1/2 hours after Kate Middleton was admitted in the early stages of labour to St Mary's Hospital, West London, the couple's Kensington Palace residence said in a statement.

Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of their baby girl. I'm absolutely delighted for them," while Labour leader Ed Miliband said the news was fantastic and added, "I know the whole country will be wishing them well."

The Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg described how he'd learned the news of the new royal arrival.

"Suddenly, I saw the television was on in the background in the sitting room, and I saw the newsflash up, that a new royal baby has been born this morning," he told supporters in Sheffield, England. "So can we give a great Lib Dem cheer for the wonderful news, for the wonderful news the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have had a healthy baby girl."

In Ramsgate, UK Independent Party (Ukip) leader Nigel Farage toasted the arrival of the royal baby at a pub.

"I sent an order out to all 5,000 UKIP candidates that they're all, in whatever drink of their choice, to toast the royal birth and to say congratulations to the happy couple, and long happy life to the girl," he said.

The birth will provide a welcome distraction for many Britons from the country's knife-edge general election campaign, which comes to a head with the vote next Thursday (7 May).