From Zac to Jack: high-profile names line up for election battle

Rowena Mason
Zac Goldsmith faces an uphill struggle in Richmond Park. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Theresa May’s announcement of a snap general election sent aspirant politicians across the parties scrambling. The Conservatives and Labour are seeing the fiercest selection fights because few of their candidates had already been picked, while the Liberal Democrats have a string of former MPs ready to go into battle for their old seats. Here are some of the high-profile names seeking to enter the House of Commons:


Zac Goldsmith, Richmond Park The former MP is attempting to regain his old seat, having being booted out less than six months ago. He resigned to stand as an independent because of the Tories’ support for expansion at Heathrow, a key local issue. He was unseated by the Liberal Democrats, who were not only anti-Heathrow but also anti-Brexit in an area that voted remain. The pro-Brexit Goldsmith faces an uphill struggle.

Esther McVey, Tatton The former disabilities minister is almost certain to return as an MP in the ultra-safe seat vacated by George Osborne. McVey, a former broadcaster who sat in David Cameron’s coalition cabinet, was one of the few high-profile scalps claimed by Labour at the last election, when she lost Wirral West.

Julia Dockerill, Hornchurch and Upminster Dockerill, a local councillor, has been selected for a safe Tory seat in Essex, replacing Dame Angela Watkinson. She hit the headlines this year when she accidentally flashed some notes relating to Brexit while coming out of No 11 Downing Street alongside her boss Mark Field, a Conservative MP. The notes embarrassingly suggested it was government policy to “have cake and eat it” when it came to negotiating with the EU.

Nick De Bois, Enfield North Another former MP, De Bois will do battle for a third time with Labour’s Joan Ryan, whom he beat in 2010 and then lost to in 2015. During his time in the Commons, De Bois campaigned for tougher sentences for people convicted of carrying knives. After he was vote out he helped run Goldsmith’s unsuccessful London mayoral campaign, which was criticised for attempting to stoke anti-Muslim sentiment in the battle against Labour’s Sadiq Khan.


Paul Dadge comforting an injured woman after the 7/7 attacks in 2005. Photograph: Edmond Terakopian/PA

Ellie Reeves, Lewisham West and Penge Reeves, a former member of Labour’s ruling national executive, is from a highly political family and works as an employment law barrister and maternity rights campaigner. Her sister, Rachel, is an MP in Leeds and was shadow work and pensions secretary under Ed Miliband. Her husband, John Cryer, is also an MP and the chair of Labour’s parliamentary party. She is local to the area and very likely to win the safe Labour seat, after the retirement of the longstanding incumbent Jim Dowd.

Katy Clark (yet to be selected) A favourite of the Labour leadership, the former MP is now political secretary to Jeremy Corbyn and considered to be on the left of the party. She is seeking to run in Leigh, Andy Burnham’s former seat, but could end up contesting another area depending on whether she is picked by the selection panels. She lost her seat of North Ayrshire and Arran to the SNP at the 2015 election.

Sam Tarry (yet to be selected) The Momentum activist, Labour councillor and political officer at the TSSA union is another favourite of the leadership. He was not chosen for the safe seat of Hull West and Hessle, where the former home secretary Alan Johnson is standing down, but he is one of the top picks on the left of the party to get another seat of a retiring MP.

Paul Dadge, Cannock Chase Dadge is yet to be selected but the man who was famously photographed comforting a victim of the 7/7 terror attacks is launching a bid to unseat the Conservative Amanda Milling in a marginal seat that was held by Labour as recently as 2010. Milling has a majority of almost 5,000.

Simon Danczuk, Rochdale The MP is currently independent and awaiting disciplinary proceedings by the party after a tabloid newspaper revealed last year that he had sent explicit messages to a 17-year-old female constituent. However, there is no time for the process to be completed before the election, so he may end up running as a Labour candidate in the seat, unless specific measures are taken to exclude him.

Liberal Democrats

Vince Cable during the 2015 election campaign. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

Vince Cable, Twickenham It was a big shock when Cable, then business secretary, lost his seat as part of the Tories’ ruthless decapitation strategy against the Lib Dems at the last election. Since then he has been knighted and kept in the headlines now and again commentating on issues related to Theresa May’s industrial strategy. He is now one of several Lib Dem big beasts trying to win back their seats, campaigning on the party’s pro-EU credentials in an area that voted to remain.

Simon Hughes, Bermondsey and Old Southwark Another former Lib Dem cabinet minister who has acquired a knighthood since he lost his seat at the last election. Hughes was beaten by more than 4,000 votes by Labour’s Neil Coyle, a critic of Corbyn, who will be fighting hard to hold on to his London constituency.


Paul Nuttall (seat yet to be decided) The Ukip leader has dithered over whether and where to stand since the election was called but there is speculation that he could go for Boston and Skegness, a Tory-held Lincolnshire seat with high eastern European immigration, or Heywood and Middleton, a Labour-held seat outside Manchester where Ukip did well in a byelection. He has previously stood with little success in his home town of Bootle and had a bruising byelection campaign in Stoke-on-Trent, where elements of his CV were questioned and he had to admit that a claim on his website that he lost close friends in the Hillsborough tragedy was wrong.

Gerard Batten, Maidenhead Batten is taking on Theresa May in her Berkshire seat with little chance of success other than potentially attracting some publicity. The party’s Brexit spokesman has made some very controversial statements about Islam, and once commissioned a charter of understanding that he suggested UK Muslims should sign to pledge non-violence. More recently, he responded to last month’s Westminster terror attack by saying “normal non-Mohammedans” should fear Islam and attacked the religion as a “death cult, born and steeped in 1,400 years of violence and bloodshed, that propagates itself by intimidation, violence and conquest.”


Mhairi Black after her 2015 election victory. Photograph: David Cheskin/PA

Mhairi Black, Paisley and Renfrewshire South There are only five seats where the SNP has to pick non-incumbent candidates, because of its dominance in Scottish parliamentary seats. It could have been six vacant seats but the 22-year-old Black has decided to stand again despite saying she “hates” Westminster much of the time. The high-profile young MP is the baby of the House of Commons and has won praise for powerful speeches about inequality.


Jack Monroe. Photograph: Lauren Hurley/PA

Jack Monroe, Southend The writer and food blogger is thinking about contesting either of the Tory-held Southend seats as an independent. She shot to fame after writing a blog about cooking thrift meals as a single mother on benefits and has since gained a prominent media profile. She came out as transgender in 2015 (but is comfortable with female pronouns) and won £24,000 in damages from Katie Hopkins after the columnist suggested she had taken part in or condoned the defacement of a war memorial.