General Election 2017: Zac Goldsmith reselected as Tory candidate for Richmond Park

Chloe Chaplain
Candidate: Zac Goldsmith is the Tory candidate for the Richmond Park seat: Alex Lentati

Zac Goldsmith has been reselected to stand as the Conservative MP for Richmond Park in the election despite his resignation just last year.

He will prepare to mount a comeback as a Tory MP after winning the selection contest outright in the first round after taking on Laura Farris and Luke Parker.

Mr Goldsmith resigned in October in protest over the Government's decision to back a third runway at Heathrow Airport.

At the time he described the Tories' decision to back the runway as “catastrophic” and said it would be a “milestone around this Government’s neck for years”.

Candidate: Zac Goldsmith and wife Alice (Dave Benett)

Mr Goldsmith said that he would stand by his promise to his constituents and allow them to vote in another candidate.

After resigning, he ran as an independent in the December by-election - in which there was no Conservative nominee - but was beaten by Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney.

Now, despite no apparent change in the Government’s stance on the third runway, he will take on Ms Olney again on June 8 as the Conservative candidate.

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.

Victorious: Liberal Democrat candidate Sarah Olney reacts whilst being announced as the winner of the Richmond Park by-election (Getty Images)

"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.

Dejected: Zac Goldsmith after the by-election result was announced (PA)

"People in Richmond Park voted resoundingly against a hard Brexit and against Heathrow expansion, both backed by Zac Goldsmith's Conservative Party. Instead they voted for the Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney.

"Zac Goldsmith couldn't stand on a Conservative platform last time, so what's changed?

"As a Conservative he will be standing on a clear pro-Brexit, pro-Heathrow manifesto. The people of Richmond Park have already told him what they think of that.

"Sarah Olney beat him once, she will beat him again."

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