Zac Goldsmith to fight Richmond Park seat again for Tories
Mr Goldsmith lost his Richmond Park seat in December 2016 when he ran in a by-election he forced.
Zac Goldsmith will attempt to mount a comeback as a Tory MP just months after quitting the party in a protest over the Government’s support for Heathrow expansion.
Mr Goldsmith lost his Richmond Park seat in December 2016 to the Liberal Democrats in a by-election which he forced so he could run as an independent opposed to expanding the west London airport.
He is now back in the Tory fold and seeking to regain the seat in the June 8 General Election after being selected as the party’s candidate.
Despite the Government’s backing for Heathrow, he will continue to oppose it.
Lib Dem Sarah Olney won the seat in December in a campaign which focused on Brexit – the Remain-supporting seat voting to oust Leave-supporting Mr Goldsmith.
But local Tories insist Mr Goldsmith is not a “hardened Brexiteer”.
Constituency chairman Georgina Butler said: “We are delighted that Zac Goldsmith has been reselected as the Conservative candidate for Richmond Park and North Kingston in the forthcoming General Election, and we look forward to having him back again as our representative in Parliament.
“After a resounding victory in the 2015 General Election, his absence from Parliament since last December has been a disappointment. He is widely regarded the best MP that Richmond Park and North Kingston has ever had, and we need him back to represent our residents effectively.
“Far from being a hardened Brexiteer as his opponents have painted him, he will fight for the best deal for Britain. He has led on guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens in the UK, and is a champion of strong protection for the environment.
“He will also continue to lead the fight against Heathrow expansion, an issue which continues to concern our residents.”
The by-election defeat marked the second setback for Mr Goldsmith within months, after he lost to Sadiq Khan in the 2016 London mayoral election.
That campaign was criticised, even within the Tory Party, for its negative messaging and focus on Mr Khan’s Muslim background.
Lib Dem chief whip Tom Brake said: “By standing as a Conservative after resigning over Heathrow, Zac Goldsmith has just lost his last shred of credibility. Zac Goldsmith couldn’t stand on a Conservative platform last time, so what’s changed?”