The Liberal Democrats have ousted former Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith in the Richmond Park by-election, overturning a majority of over 23,000.
Goldsmith called the by-election and ran as an independent in protest of the Conservative government’s decision to support the construction of a third runway at Heathrow. Despite his public protest, he enjoyed the full support of the Conservative Party, with UKIP also opting to support him rather than run its own candidate.
However, he was beaten by Lib Dem Sarah Olney, who also opposes the third runway at Heathrow, who fought the campaign over the central issue of Brexit. The Lib Dems are the only major party to promise a second referendum on the issue of the UK leaving the European Union, and have gained support in the political centre ground after Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May have polarised the politics of Labour and the Conservatives.
In the wake of her victory, Olney said:
“The people of Richmond Park and North Kingston have sent a shockwave through this Conservative Brexit government, and our message is clear – we do not want a hard Brexit.
“We do not want to be pulled out of the single market, and we will not let intolerance, division and fear win.”
The Green Party chose to support the Liberal Democrat Olney rather than field their own candidate in an unofficial alliance in Richmond.
Goldsmith’s failed mayoral campaign, where the Conservative Party machine opted to slander Sadiq Khan and his personal Muslim beliefs rather than debate the issue facing the capital, also played a part in the shift in support away from the billionaire former Tory.