With a decisive southern victory, Trump moves ever closer to the Republican nomination

Donald Trump won the critical southern state with 60% of the vote, far ahead of Nikki Haley, ITV News Correspondent Robert Moore reports from Washington

This was an emphatic victory for Donald Trump. And all the sweeter to the former president because it was achieved in his rival's home state of South Carolina.

Trump won the critical southern state with 60% of the vote, far ahead of Nikki Haley. It makes him the overwhelming favourite to win the right to take on Joe Biden for the presidency in November.

Haley says she is staying in the fight to give Republicans a choice. She made a defiant, well-judged speech after conceding her home state.

But that doesn't overcome the central problem she faces. Republicans are making their choice. And by large margins they are wanting Donald Trump to be their nominee.

What makes this overnight triumph so remarkable is not only that Haley is the former governor of South Carolina, but that by any conventional measures Trump has endured a disastrous few weeks.

'It's a record times two... Some really great things are going on': Donald Trump takes to the stage for his victory speech moments after polls closed

He has outraged many observers on both sides of the Atlantic with his provocative statement that he would encourage Russia to do "whatever it wants" to any NATO country that doesn't pay its fair share of the Western alliance's bills.

Trump has also just been fined $355 million in a civil fraud case, a verdict that threatens his New York businesses.

And yet Republican voters in South Carolina on Saturday simply shrugged and voted for Donald Trump anyway.

It's the strongest proof so far that he will survive - politically at least - the range of court cases he faces between now and the election.

Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks after the South Carolina presidential primary. Credit: AP

Republicans have moved past his legal troubles - or even see the criminal charges as validation for the Trump argument that the legal system is being weaponised against him.

Next will be the Republican primary vote in Michigan and then it's Super Tuesday on March 5.

By that point Trump will be unstoppable. Haley will almost certainly be forced to throw in the towel.

And America will have to brace for the Biden-Trump rematch that so many voters are dreading but seem powerless to prevent.

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