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Pete Lawrence - 25 Oct 2016
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Zak Goldsmith has quit as Richmond Park and North Kingston MP and promised to stand as an independent candidate, as many MPs threaten to rebel and Boris Johnson says that Heathrow expansion is undeliverable. Adding a third runway to what is already the noisiest airport in Europe by a huge margin will mean 300, 000 extra flights and huge impact on the west side of London in particular. This story looks set to dominate the news agenda over the next year at least

 "I promised my constituents that if my Party gave a green light to Heathrow expansion, I would resign and give them a chance to vote again. Today that has happened and so I have resigned as your MP and will be standing as an Independent candidate in the upcoming by-election. This gives us a chance to send a powerful message via the ballot box. Please join my campaign so that we can fight and stop Heathrow expansion together. Please email volunteer@zacgoldsmith.com to get involved."

https://www.facebook.com/ZacGoldsmith/videos/740377239449050/

Political commentator Robert Peston gave this view via his Facebook page "

Zac Goldsmith wants the Richmond Park by-election to be "a referendum" on whether Theresa May is right to have authorised the building of a third runway at Heathrow. But that is a bit of a joke. Because - as he surely knew - the only credible challenger candidate will be the LibDem candidate, and LibDem policy is to oppose all airport expansion in the South East. So the by-election will much more likely be a mini referendum on whether the country was right to choose Brexit, because Goldsmith was and is a Brexiteer and the LibDems are in deep mourning for our lost EU membership."

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who has campaigned steadily against the runway for decades as a West London constituency MP gave this response "“I’ve campaigned against this runway for over 30 years and in that time Heathrow have never managed to win the argument for expansion which still remains the case today.

“Nothing has changed. Building a third runway would be devastating for local residents who face losing their homes, schools, community centre and village life. It also remains a disaster for air pollution, noise levels and our efforts to tackle climate change.

“4000 homes face the prospect of either being demolished or rendered unliveable by air pollution and noise. This means 8 to 10 thousand people being forcibly removed from their homes. We have not seen anything on this scale in our country’s history.

“I’ll continue to support my constituents in campaigning against this runway so that it never sees the light of day.”

5 Comments

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Ian Cuthbert

I have a dream that the by-election splits the Tory vote between Goldsmith and the Tory party and another candidate (most likely a resurgent LibDem unfortunately, but it's better than a Tory) wins the seat. Here are the 2015 results for Richmond Park and North Kingston:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richmond_Park_(UK_Parliament_constituency)

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Pete Lawrence

It swing to Tories from LibDem in 2010 so it's not beyond the realms of fantasy!

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Pete Lawrence

Peston's view "...with Richmonders overwhelmingly pro-EU, Goldsmith's grip on this seat is by no means super-glued.
How has it come to this?
Well it is because May lacked the bottle to put up a Tory candidate to challenge the now "independent" Goldsmith, even though Goldsmith was savage in his criticism of her decision to sanction Heathrow - because she was advised that splitting the right-wing vote would let in the LibDems.
So what the Goldsmith resignation and Heathrow shows is how perilously weak the government led by Theresa May is, with its tiny majority of 10 (post the Goldsmith defection) and Tory MPs taking lumps out of each other on Heathrow, grammar schools and - above all - the true meaning of Brexit.
The big fact about the May administration is that she is a strong character in charge of structurally feeble government - a ruling party riven by personal and ideological divisions, almost all of the animosities stemming from Tory MPs' competing religious beliefs about what our future relationship with the EU should be.
That extraordinary weakness is visible in May granting a licence to Boris Johnson to thumb his nose at the boldest decision she has taken so far, the runway construction (and the identical licence granted to the education secretary Justine Greening, who is so far not using it as conspicuously).
None of this feels sustainable - given that May faces challenges of a complexity and magnitude no British government has faced since 1945, namely how to reconcile control of immigration with an economic and trade policy that doesn't impoverish us, and how simultaneously to keep the United Kingdom intact.
So in spite of her protestations that she does not want an early general election, it is increasingly difficult to see how she can negotiate Brexit and the maintenance of Scotland within the union unless she wins a personal mandate by going to the country - and probably as soon as next year.
The alternative will be chronic instability, endemic crisis, which she won't like and the country will rue."

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Ian Cuthbert

Here's a Number Crunching Politics article on the polling on the by-election:
http://www.ncpolitics.uk/2016/10/richmond-park-by-election-zac-leads-the...

Is it definite that the Tories will not enter a candidate?

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Pete Lawrence

Here's the Compass view on how a progressive alliance might edge out both the Tories and Zak http://www.compassonline.org.uk/richmond-by-election-time-for-a-progress...

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