Richmond voters have described why they overturned a 23,000 majority previously held by ex-Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith to elect Liberal Democrats’ Sarah Olney in Thursday's by-election.
Mr Goldsmith had triggered a by-election in protest at the Conservative Party’s backing of a third runway at Heathrow, a decision he said he had fought on behalf of constituents whose lives if would impact.
The 41-year-old ran and lost as an independent, with many voters attributing the ‘hard Brexit’ direction the Conservative government is taking as the reason they abandoned the former MP, in what is a heavily pro-Remain constituency.
“I voted for the Liberal Democrat basically because of Brexit,” said Roger Weizer, 73. “I don’t want a hard Brexit, I think it would be disastrous for the country.”
“I’ve always voted for Conservative, but I voted for Liberal Democrats,” said Paula Pearce, 35.
“I think a lot of people have changed their minds since the referendum, so I’m not for hard Brexit and I hope she [Theresa May] doesn’t go for that.”
Mr Goldsmith’s ability to make the by-election a referendum on Heathrow expansion was undermined by the other major candidate, Ms Olney, also opposing the runway.
Having won 23,015 more votes in the 2015 general election than his nearest Lib Dem competitor, Mr Goldsmith lost to Ms Olney by just under 2,000 votes on Thursday.
“People do recognise that the Liberal Democrats are also anti-Heathrow and have done a lot of work there as well,” said another voter.
“It doesn’t need to be Zac [to stop Heathrow expansion].”
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