Conservative campaigners reacted furiously as the Richmond Park election result went through four gruelling recounts before Zac Goldsmith’s slender victory was announced in the early hours of this morning.
Winning by just 45 votes, Goldsmith edged out Sarah Olney, the Liberal Democrat candidate who took it from his just five months ago in the infamous post-Brexit by-election.
Declaring at 7.15am, Richmond was one of the last constituencies in the UK to reveal its election result.
Tensions were running high in the closing hours of the count, with Conservative campaigners openly declaring that Goldsmith had won but with no official result being announced until several hours later.
One Tory campaign member was overheard describing the numerous recounts as ‘disgraceful’.
Ms Olney is reported to have demanded the several recounts due to such a fine majority.
Upon accepting defeat, she said: “Thank you to the counting staff for the amazing job you’ve done, I know it’s been really hard work, I do appreciate all the extra effort you’ve had to put in to provide the result.
“I’d like to thank my predecessor, now successor, Zac Goldsmith for his very generous words.
“I’d like to thank my team who have just been extraordinary and have worked extremely hard, it’s heartbreaking to have lost out by such a small amount but I don’t think it’s any reflection on the campaigning or the hard work that everybody put in.”
Zac Goldsmith, a veteran anti-Heathrow expansion campaigner, resigned from the Conservative Party in December 2016 after his party pushed through with plans to build a third runway at Heathrow.
This triggered a by-election, where he stood as an independent candidate and suffered a bruising defeat to Olney.
Turnout rocketed from 55.33% in the December by-election to 79.3% yesterday.