Tory Brexiteer Zac Goldsmith set to lose seat, exit poll forecasts

Andrew Woodcock

Former Tory mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith is set to lose his Richmond Park seat in south London to Liberal Democrats, according to the exit poll.

The recapture of the Remain-backing seat which they briefly held in 2016/17 would be one of very few glimmers of light for Liberal Democrats in what looks set to be a night of gloom for Jo Swinson’s party.

The party also had some cause for hope in Finchley and Golders Green, where the exit poll gave a 61 per cent chance that Luciana Berger would snatch the constituency from Tories.

But as well as the forecast loss of Ms Swinson’s own seat in Dunbartonshire East, the Lib Dems look likely to fall short of hoped-for advances in a string of key target seats.

Ex-Labour defector Chuka Umunna and former Tory Sam Gyimah were forecast to miss out on the high-profile seats of Cities of London & Westminster and Kensington, with Labour leading in both.

And hopes that the Lib Dems would claim the scalps of high-profile Tories in Remain-voting seats looked set to be dashed.

The exit poll predicted with 99 per cent certainty that Dominic Raab will hold onto Esher & Walton and Sir John Redwood will retain Wokingham.

Even in Heidi Allen’s old seat of Cambridgeshire South – regarded as one of the Lib Dems’ top prospects – Tories were rated a 99 per cent chance of victory.

Meanwhile, former attorney general Dominic Grieve and ex-justice secretary David Gauke were predicted to fail in their bids to hold onto their former seats as Independents standing against Conservatives.

The son of billionaire businessman Sir James Goldsmith, Zac Goldsmith held Richmond Park for Tories from 2010 until 2016, when he lost a by-election which he forced by standing down in protest at the third runway at Heathrow.

He returned to parliament in 2017, defeating Sarah Olney, who was once again his rival in the 12 December poll.

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