Zac Goldsmith triggers a by-election… and Lib Dems look to steal his seat
Tim Farron's party will 'throw the House' at Richmond Park.
A lively London by-election is on the cards with Zac Goldsmith having resigned from parliament in protest against the government’s backing of a third runway at Heathrow.
The former Tory mayoral candidate stood up in the Commons this afternoon to denounce the verdict as “wrong and doomed”.
Goldsmith will stand as an independent in the upcoming contest in Richmond Park, but the Conservatives have said they will not field a candidate against him - which is bad news for the Liberal Democrats, who are hoping to steal the seat.
A Tory spokesman said: "We disagree with Zac about the need for a by-election in light of this decision, but understand his position. He has been a hard-working champion for the people of Richmond Park - as we know, he will continue to be if they re-elect him as their Member of Parliament - so we will not be putting up a candidate against him at this by-election."
After a strong showing in Witney last week the Lib Dems are hopeful of winning back the seat they lost in 2010.
The party achieved a 19.3% swing from the Tories in Witney, propelling them into second place. In order to win Richmond they would need a 19.35% swing.
Some 104 of the 108 Lib Dem peers hit the Witney campaign trail, while Farron made four visits.
A Lib Dem source told Total Politics: "We threw the kitchen sink at Witney and now we are throwing the house at Richmond Park.”
Another source told the Guardian the race in Richmond would be a “bigger campaign” than in both Witney last week and Eastleigh in 2013.
“In Witney we were going for a really strong second, which we achieved, this time we will be going to win,” they said.
Goldsmith currently enjoys a majority of more than 23,000, but is at odds with voters in Richmond on the EU referendum. Some 75,396 voters in Richmond Upon Thames backed staying in the EU, to 33,410 in favour of leaving the bloc.
Relative unknown Sarah Olney will stand for the Lib Dems in the contest in Richmond.
Picture by: PA/PA Wire/PA Images