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Ming Campbell: Richmond has “historic opportunity” to reject hard Brexit

James Giles

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Former Liberal Democrat Leader Ming Campbell has today told voters in Richmond they have a “historic opportunity” to reject a hard Brexit in the upcoming by-election and secure Britain’s future membership of the Single Market.

The Liberal Democrat peer visited London Wetlands Centre in Barnes, which has received European funding for conservation work and is protected by the EU’s nature laws, along with Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder and by-election candidate Sarah Olney.

They also stressed the importance of maintaining EU environmental protections after Brexit, including pollution limits that are one of the strongest obstacles to Heathrow expansion.

Ming Campbell said:

“The voters of Richmond Park and North Kingston will soon have an historic opportunity to reject the hard Brexit agenda of this Conservative Government.

“People here, and across the UK, are telling us that the Conservatives are taking the country in the wrong direction on Europe, and Labour have given up on our place in it.

“Only the Liberal Democrats are fighting to keep the UK in the Single Market and to give the British people a say over the final Brexit deal.

“Electing Sarah Olney will send a shockwave through this Conservative government and make clear that people here don’t want to see a destructive Brexit that damages jobs and the economy.”

Sarah Olney said:

“The London Wetlands Centre is a fantastic day out for families looking to see local wildlife in the heart of Richmond.

“I discussed the importance of extending local bus links from Barnes so parents can easily take their children here, including on Sundays.

“I will now be raising this issue with TFL, and if elected I will work closely with Liberal Democrat colleagues in City Hall and Westminster to champion public transport for local residents.”

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder said:

“The EU has the world’s strongest environmental protections, protecting our treasured species and habitats including here in Richmond.

“We demand that the Government does not weaken these laws after Brexit.

“EU pollution limits are one of the strongest protections against Heathrow expansion, they must not be scrapped as a way to force through a third runway at the expense of local people’s health.”

James Giles is the Editor of the Kingston Enquirer, covering local news and events in Kingston, New Malden, Surbiton, Tolworth and Chessington.

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#RichmondPark

Lib Dems pull off shock victory in Richmond Park by-election as Zac is thrown out

James Giles

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A ‘shockwave to Downing Street’ has, last night, been pulled off by the Liberal Democrats, with Sarah Olney defeating Zac Goldsmith in the Richmond Park by-election.

Lib Dem challenger Ms Olney overturned Mr Goldsmith’s 23,015 majority to win by 1,872 votes. The result saw Ms Olney poll 20,510 votes to Mr Goldsmith’s 18,638, on a turnout of 41,367, or 53.6 per cent. The 21.74 per cent swing to the Lib Dems from Mr Goldsmith topped the 19.3 per cent swing the Lib Dems achieved from the Tories in the Witney by-election.

A Green Party spokesperson said: “The Green Party’s decision to stand down and the huge drop in the Labour Party vote show that people will vote tactically. It proves that there is a huge appetite and a need for proportional representation so that people can express a real preference at elections. In Sarah Olney, we now have an MP who will push for the electoral reform that we so urgently need. We look forward to working with the Liberal Democrats, Women’s Equality Party and the Labour Party in a Progressive Alliance for the 2018 local elections and the next General Election.”

 

Ms Olney said the shock victory was a rejection of the “Ukip vision” of Britain, and the politics of “anger and division”.

In her victory speech, she said: “The people of Richmond Park and North Kingston have sent a shockwave through this Conservative Brexit government, and our message is clear: we do not want a hard Brexit. We do not want to be pulled out of the single market, and we will not let intolerance, division and fear win.”

In a brief acknowledgement of the result, a clearly downcast Mr Goldsmith said: “This by-election that we have just had was not a political calculation, it was a promise that I made and it was a promise that I kept.”

Labour’s Christian Wolmar lost his deposit as he trailed a distant third with 1,515 votes, losing 8% of the Labour vote compared to 2015.

A Conservative Party spokesman said the result would make no difference to Brexit plans, stating: “This result doesn’t change anything. The Government remains committed to leaving the European Union and triggering Article 50 by the end of March next year. Commiserations to Zac Goldsmith on his defeat. We are sorry that he is no longer in the House of Commons.”

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: “The message is clear: The Liberal Democrats are back and we are carrying the torch for all of those who want a real opposition to this Conservative Brexit government.

“This was a remarkable, come-from-nowhere upset that will terrify the Conservatives. A year and a half ago, their man won by nearly 40% and had a majority of more than 20,000. In one fell swoop we have wiped that out completely.

“If this was a general election, this swing would mean the Conservatives would lose dozens of seats to the Liberal Democrats – and their majority with it.

Mr Wolmar said voters had disliked Mr Goldsmith’s “ghastly, disgusting” bid to be London Mayor in which Labour accused him of running a racist campaign against Sadiq Khan.

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