Wednesday, August 10

Lib Dems Sarah Olney defeats Zac Goldsmith in Brexit backlash



The Liberal Democrats candidate Sarah Olney has defeated Zac Goldsmith, overturning his huge majority, in the Richmond Park by-election .

She won 20,510 votes compared to Mr Goldsmith’s 18,638. The Labour candidate, Christian Wolmar, got 1,515 votes.

Mrs Olney said the result was a rejection of the “politics of anger and division”.

“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.””We will defend the Britain we love. We will stand up for the open tolerant, united Britain we believe in,” she said.

Mr Goldsmith said: “This by-election that we just had was not a political calculation, it was a promise that I made and it was a promise that I kept .”

Following his resignation from the Conservatives, the party announced it would not put forward a candidate to challenge the Richmond Park seat.

The Lib Dems tried to switch the focus of the campaign to Brexit in the staunchly Remain constituency.

Mrs Olney, 39, is a newcomer to politics having only joined the Lib Dems in May 2015.

A North Kingston resident for six years, she is a qualified accountant and works at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington. She is also chairman of North Kingston Liberal Democrats.

Pressed on the first things she will begin working on as an MP, she said: “Brexit and Heathrow were the two key things we fought this campaign on, so those are the two priorities when I get into parliament.”

Ms Olney said she now wanted Parliament to “override” the Brexit referendum.

“It does look now as if we can have a vote in Parliament that might override the referendum. And I will, obviously, be voting to Remain because that is always what I have believed,” she told Sky News.

Asked if she would actively resist Brexit as an MP, she said: “Absolutely. Now I’ve been given this mandate.”

A Conservative Party spokesman said the result would make no difference to Brexit plans.

He said: “Commiserations to Zac Goldsmith on his defeat. Zac has been a strong and principled champion for the residents of Richmond Park and North Kingston over the past six years as their Member of Parliament, and a popular figure in the Conservative Party. We are sorry that he is no longer in the House of Commons.

“This result doesn’t change anything. The Government remains committed to leaving the European Union and triggering Article 50 by the end of March next year. In addition, we will continue to take decisive action in the national interest to secure the UK’s place the world – supporting a third runway at Heathrow to secure jobs and business opportunities for the next decade and beyond.”

“The Liberal Democrats are back and we are carrying the torch for all of those who want a real opposition to this Conservative Brexit government,” he said. Tim Farron, the Lib Dem leader , said the “message is clear”.

“We are the only party fighting to keep Britain open, tolerant and united, and the only party that has said, loudly and proudly, that we want Britain to remain a member of the Single Market and that we want the people to be given the final say over the Brexit deal. That message has been resoundingly backed by the people of Richmond Park.”