Zac Goldsmith shortlisted to stand for Conservatives in Richmond Park months after by-election defeat

Former MP is one of three Tory candidates vying to recapture the seat from the Liberal Democrats

Caroline Mortimer
Tuesday 25 April 2017 21:09
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Lib Dem beats Zac Goldsmith in Richmond Park by-election shock

Zac Goldsmith has made it on to the shortlist to stand in his old constituency just four months after he lost it in a by-election he triggered.

The former MP gave up the Conservative whip and resigned from Parliament in October, forcing a by-election in his south London constituency of Richmond Park, in protest at the Government’s approval of a third runway at Heathrow.

But the gamble backfired when his 23,000 majority was overturned by Liberal Democrat candidate Sarah Olney in the December election on a wave of anti-Brexit feeling.

The constituency voted heavily for Remain during the EU referendum last year.

It capped off a disastrous year for the politician after he also lost heavily to Labour’s Sadiq Khan in the 2016 London Mayoral race in May where he was accused of running a “dog whistle” racist campaign.

Mr Goldsmith has now returned to the Conservative fold and is one of three candidates on the shortlist for the seat, Tory blog Conservative Home reported.

The two other candidates up for consideration are barrister and former BBC journalist Laura Farris and IT specialist Luke Parker.

The Liberal Democrats have denounced the move saying if he stood for the Tories he would "lose what little credibility he has left".

A spokesman for the party said: “People in Richmond Park voted resoundingly against a hard Brexit and against Heathrow expansion, both backed by this Conservative government.

“He couldn’t stand on a Conservative platform last time, so what’s changed?

Despite the Conservatives appearing on track to win a resounding majority in the Commons after 8 June, internal polling leaked earlier this month suggested the party may struggle to hang on in the pro-Remain south London constituencies.

The survey, published by the New Statesman, found the Conservatives could lose as many as 27 seats it gained from the Liberal Democrats in the south-west of England and London at the 2015 general election.

The Liberal Democrats are campaigning on a platform of opposing Brexit and demanding a second referendum on terms of the exit deal with the EU.

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