Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney defeats Zac Goldsmith in historic Richmond Park by-election

Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney defeated Independent Zac Goldsmith by 1,872 votes to become the new MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston in a historic by-election last night.

On a turnout of 53.6% Mrs Olney won an impressive 20,510 votes compared to Mr Goldsmith’s 18,638 – with Labour candidate Christian Wolmar finishing in third.

Mrs Olney joined the Liberal Democrats in 2015 after the general election and despite being a political novice the candidate received overwhelming support from across the political spectrum.

Mrs Olney is now the ninth and only female Liberal Democrat in Parliament.

In her victory speech the new MP said: “Richmond Park is full of people like me who felt like something was going wrong, that the politics of anger and division were on the rise – that the liberal tolerant values we took for granted were under threat.

“Well, today we have said no. We will stand up for the open, tolerant, united Britain we believe in. The people of Richmond Park and North Kingston have sent a shockwave through this Conservative Brexit government.”


Mr Goldsmith’s campaign tried to keep Heathrow expansion as the key issue of this by-election.

However, it was clear the Liberal Democrats planned to run on a Brexit ticket – appealing to the 72% of people in the constituency who voted in favor of Remain in the EU referendum.

A Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: “We spent the first couple of weeks of this by-election not telling people what to think but actually going around and asking people what they thought.

“What was interesting was that Heathrow was of certain concern but actually Brexit was massively more important.”

Throughout the campaign, Mrs Olney said she would vote against Article 50 and even went as far as saying she would try and stop Brexit altogether.

This was a hand Eurosceptic Mr Goldsmith couldn’t play and instead was forced to repeatedly state that Brexit was going to happen regardless.

The Liberal Democrats did everything in their power to reclaim this seat having held it from 1997-2010.

Party leader Tim Farron, former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and even Sir Bob Geldof were huge supporters of Mrs Olney.

The party claims it knocked on every door in the constituency and is open about drafting in volunteers from across the country.

It worked, and despite Mr Goldsmith staying true to his campaign promises it seems voters could not overlook his position on Brexit and the criticism he received over his mayoral campaign in May.

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