Green co-leader blasts Zac Goldsmith for 'implying party stood aside for Tories' in his constituency

James Morris
Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
Zac Goldsmith (Steve Taylor/SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

Green Party co-leader Sian Berry has blasted Tory Zac Goldsmith after he “implied” her party had stood aside for him in his constituency.

Richmond Park Greens did stand aside in the ultra-marginal west London seat, but this was to help pro-Remain Liberal Democrat candidate Sarah Olney - who missed out by just 45 votes in 2017 - unseat Mr Goldsmith in the general election.

He had sparked fury when he tweeted, alongside a campaign video: “Just received a welcome message: ‘I was going to support the Green Party but they have stood aside so that means Zac now gets my vote.’

“Once again I’d like to reiterate my thanks to the Greens for stepping aside.”

The Greens stood aside as part of the “Unite to Remain” movement to maximise the chances of pro-Remain candidates. Mr Goldsmith is pro-Brexit.

Ms Berry, who stood against Mr Goldsmith in the 2016 London mayoral elections, told Yahoo News UK on Monday the Greens would never support the Tories’ environmental or Brexit policies: “I was honestly astounded he would even try that. To try and imply we have in any way endorsed him is unbelievably wrong.

Sian Berry (PA)

“He needs to know that wasn’t the case. We have stood aside so the Lib Dems can win that seat from him.”

She added of Mr Goldsmith: “They are very much the sort of people who say anything goes in elections. I really can’t stand it. We have standards to stick to, we need to be polite to one another, and none of this is any of that.”

Mr Goldsmith’s office has been contacted for comment, though Mr Goldsmith himself said to Ms Berry in a tweet: “Hi Sian, if you read my tweet you will see there is no ‘fact twisting’. I am merely expressing thanks to the Greens for stepping aside. It means voters who might have backed them can back a genuinely committed green instead. That’s great news for the environment.”

The Conservative Party has been embroiled in a number of “fact twisting” controversies during the election campaign.

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In one case, it was forced to apologise for doctored footage of shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer which showed him apparently unable to answer a question about the party’s Brexit position.

An investigation by First Draft also claimed nearly 90 per cent of Conservative adverts posted on Facebook were misleading. Senior Tory Michael Gove told ITV “naturally we want to correct that”.

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