Conservatives pick Zac Goldsmith to win back Richmond seat after painful loss to Liberal Democrats

Oliver Gill
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Votes Are Counted In The Richmond Park By-election
Zac Goldsmith lost to Sarah Olney in the Richmond by-election last year (Source: Getty)

Former MP and London mayor candidate Zac Goldsmith has been selected as the Conservative candidate for Richmond and North Kingston.

Goldsmith was tonight chosen to contest the same seat he lost in a by-election last December to Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney.

The 42-year-old was selected following a secret ballot in south-west London held at 7.30pm and saw off competition from barrister Laura Farris and party activist Luke Parker.

Read more: Former Tory MP Zac Goldsmith set to mount comeback attempt

His by-election defeat to Olney, who overturned a 23,000 vote majority, came after resigning in the wake of a Conservative government decision to give Heathrow the green light to build a third runway, a move that Goldsmith had long-campaigned against.

The loss of the seat capped a difficult six months for Goldsmith after earlier losing in a bitter London mayoral bid against Sadiq Khan.

Read more: Richmond Park by-election result: Goldsmith ousted in shock Lib Dem victory

Meanwhile earlier this evening, the Conservatives picked Esther McVey to contest the Tatton seat to be vacated by former chancellor George Osborne on 8 June.

Osborne signified his intention not to stand in the General Election earlier this month.

McVey, the former Wirral West MP and minister for employment defeated prevailed in the first round of voting and will defend a majority of more than 18,000.

Last shred of credibility

Tom Brake, the Liberal Democrat chief whip responded to the news of Zac Goldsmith's appointment to take on the Liberal Democrats. He said: “By standing as a Conservative after resigning over Heathrow, Zac Goldsmith has just lost his last shred of credibility.

“People in Richmond Park voted resoundingly against a hard Brexit and against Heathrow expansion, both backed by Zac Goldsmith's Conservative Party.Instead they voted for the Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney.

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

“As a Conservative he will be standing on a clear pro-Brexit, pro-Heathrow manifesto. The people of Richmond Park have already told him what they think of that.Sarah Olney beat him once, she will beat him again."

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