Pro-Europe party wins Parliamentary By-Election in London


The anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats unexpectedly gained a U.K. parliamentary seat in a by-election Thursday, a result that may further complicate Prime Minister Theresa May’s efforts to begin the process of leaving the European Union early next year.

Liberal Democrat candidate Sarah Olney won the seat of Richmond Park, a southwest London district that overwhelmingly backed staying in the EU in June’s referendum, according to the BBC. The party, which held the seat until 2010, put Brexit at the heart of the contest, calling for a second referendum on the exit terms achieved by May and threatening to vote in parliament against her plan to trigger the two-year countdown to leaving by the end of March.

Pro-Brexit former Conservative lawmaker Zac Goldsmith had been clear favorite with bookmakers to retain the district. He ran as an independent after quitting his seat in October and triggering the contest to protest the decision by May’s government to build a third runway at nearby Heathrow Airport. The constituency lies directly under the Heathrow flight path.

May and her fellow Conservative ministers have come under attack from opposition parties for failing to give details of the government’s demands for its post-Brexit deal. A YouGov Plc poll conducted in the middle of last month found only 18 percent of respondents saying the government is doing a good job in negotiating the divorce from the EU.

For us pro-Europeans this is a glimmer of good news amidst the doom and confusion of the last few months. It’s also a surprising defeat for Zac Goldsmith.


From a parliamentary election point of view, all we seem to have heard is hand-wringing about the mood of Brexit voters if they don’t get their way, people seem to have forgotten those of us of the 48% and just how we might vote. I’ve always been a Tory but I could never vote for a Brexit supporter for my local MP, whatever their party.


Great news indeed. I think people are finally looking at the Maths and seeing that Brexit would be economically dire.


The people voted to leave the EU. This election result will not alter the intention of Theresa May to respect the will of the people.


Would that be the will of the 90% who want to remain in the ‘Single Market’, by any chance? Or just the will of the ultras of UKIP?

The ‘will of the people’ becomes more and more nebulous by the day.


You want to stay in the European Union? May I ask why? Is it just for economic reasons or another reason?

Thank you



Richmond Park by-election: Top EU official claims shock result is a win for Remain, as Iain Duncan Smith tells him to 'mind his own bloody business’

The Lib Dem candidate Sarah Olney defeated former Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, overturning his 23,000 majority, at last year’s general election, to win by 1,800 votes.

The by-election was called after Mr Goldsmith quit as a Tory MP in protest over plans to build a new runway at Heathrow airport.

However it swiftly became a vote about Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, which put Mr Goldsmith, who backed Brexit, at a disadvantage against Mrs Olney, a Remainer.

Guy Verhofstadt, the lead EU negotiator on Brexit, immediately greeted the result this morning on Twitter by congratulating Mrs Olney on her win, adding: “Europe is watching & we are proud #IamEuropean.”

Nick Clegg, the former LibDem leader, told the BBC that the message from the by-election was that “you can’t charge headlong towards hard Brexit without giving some care and duty to those who think otherwise”.

But Eurosceptic Tories were appalled by Mr Verhofstadt’s intervention.

Mr Duncan Smith told The Telegraph the official should “mind his own bloody business”.

**Lib Dems win local election in Brexit ‘shockwave’

Britain’s pro-European Union Liberal Democrats party won a parliamentary seat previously held by the ruling Conservatives on Friday in a major upset it hailed as a rejection of a “hard Brexit” that would pull the country out of the single market

Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney’s victory in a constituency in southwest London - overturning the Conservatives’ 23,000 majority from 2015 - illustrated the deep divisions running through a country that voted 52-48 percent to leave the EU.**

It also reduces Prime Minister Theresa May’s already slim majority in parliament, which might have to approve her decision to trigger the formal process of withdrawing from the bloc.

The affluent Richmond Park and North Kingston area had backed the Remain camp in June’s referendum on EU membership.

Olney, who had campaigned for the parliamentary seat on a promise to vote against triggering the withdrawal talks, said its residents had sent “a shockwave” through the Brexit process.

“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,” she said in a speech after her victory was announced.


According to this, in Richmond, 70% of the voters who voted in the EU election to Remain or Leave in Richmond, voted to Remain:

I am sceptical whether any Brexiteer is going have much of a shot in getting elected (or reelected in the case of Zac Goldsmith) in Richmond.


Are you referring to the NatCen poll? A report on this poll says:

However, 70% of those polled, including 55% of those who voted remain, said they would like to see limits on EU immigration.

To have both a limit on EU immigration and have access to the single market could be very, very difficult. It is likely far more probable that one of these things will be had but not the other.


The key aspect of this to keep in mind is that Zac Goldsmith was an enormously popular local MP re-elected last year with a 23,000 + personal mandate from his constituents. He is a high-profile figure in Britain hailing from a wealthy, patrician family of great note. He is a staunch advocate of environmentalism and cuts a daper figure on the political stage.

How such a person can see his support collapse in just a few months is astonishing.

What it shows, firstly, is that Brexiteer MPs in Remain constituencies have much to fear now. This is not a rare circumstance either and it could bode ill for both of the two major parties. If Zac, with his fame and connections, can be so thoroughly humbled - you can expect they will be thinking this morning, “what chance do I stand?”

Theresa May has a slender parliamentary majority of just a dozen MPs left. The Conservatives won in last year’s general election by plucking votes away from the Lib Dems in marginal seats.

If today’s upset were to be repeated across the country in a future election, Theresa May would lose her majority and effectively be out of government.

Not only is she being squeezed, therefore, by public opinion from the hardline Brexiteer side of the spectrum but she is now facing an insurgency from the Pro-EU side as well.

For Labour, the result could be an even grander disaster. Not only is that party hemorrhaging its working class faithful in former Northern English heartlands to UKIP, it now faces the prospect of losing its even greater numbers of socially liberal, metropolitan voters to the Lib Dems in the future.

In other words, this by-election upset is the first major sign of a titanic shift in British politics in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, in which the division between the old left/right spectrum is gradually shifting into one between Pro-EU and anti-EU factions.

In the long term, this will be remembered as a seminal and transformative moment in UK political history.


Liberal Democrat candidate Sarah Olney won the seat of Richmond Park, a southwest London district that overwhelmingly backed staying in the EU in June’s referendum. Olney, who pledged to vote against the invoking of Article 50 that starts the process of quitting the EU, overturned a 23,000 vote majority won last year by pro-Brexit Zac Goldsmith, who was running as an independent with support from May’s Tories.

Why is an “anti-Brexit” candidate winning an election in an overwhelmingly “anti-Brexit” a big deal?


For the reasons I’ve mentioned above.

Zac Goldsmith called this by-election on an issue totally disconnected from Brexit, thinking that his personal popularity - only just re-affirmed last year with a massive majority - would see him through.

Instead, he and political commentators have been dumbfounded.

The result shows that Remain voters are willing to come out in droves to vote for a candidate explicitly promising to block Brexit.

In other words, the referendum has perhaps changed the British political landscape forever and is starting to decimate old party loyalties.

Consider that Sarah Olney has been congratulated this morning by David Lammy, a Labour MP, Anna Soubry a Conservative MP and Caroline Lucas MP, the leader of the Green Party, who chose not to run but backed Olney. All of these were prominent Pro-EU’ers.

Zac Goldsmith, on the other hand, has received commiserations from the Brexiteer Tory government, UKIP who backed him and chose not to run to help him win and other Brexiteers from across the spectrum.

Surely you cannot fail to see what this means?

Olney just joined her party last year, has no experience in politics, worked as an accountant and had no name recognition and was running against a high-profile, prominent politician with a famous name and face…yet he lost his massive personal mandate, simply because he was a Brexiteer, to someone no one had ever heard of before simply because she was adamantly pro-EU.

It demonstrates that Brexit has the potential now to override all other considerations in the eyes of voters.

If this by-election had taken place before Brexit, I am sure that Goldsmith would have won hands-down. Instead he’s lost to a previously unknown accountant from Kingston running on an anti-Brexit, pro-EU ticket.


I’m going to confess to not knowing much about European politics, but I’m still having a hard time seeing an “anti-Brexit” candidate winning election in an overwhelmingly “anti-Brexit” district as indicative of some national political “sea change” or “seismic shift”. Maybe it is, but this seems pretty weak evidence to support it.

When you add that the district has traditionally been a Liberal Democratic district, it makes the case even weaker.


It’s a sea change because it shows that Remain vs Leave the EU is solidifying into the main faultline in British politics, not the old left/ right divide of the Tory and Labour parties.

It shows that Brexit has not been settled by the referendum but has become an ongoing and probably permanent fixture of the UK political landscape.

It shows that people are even willing to override party loyalties, personal popularity of MPs and much else besides purely because they do not agree with a candidate’s view on Brexit.

Since 48% of the populace voted Pro-EU, this could one day coalesce into a formidable block alongside Pro-Leave, that could compete not only for the votes of hardliners on either side but people open to shifting and the millions who never voted in the Referendum but are going to face the backlash of it now.

It is a significant headache for both of the main parties at a fragile economic time.


**Why the Lib Dems’ Richmond by-election triumph will scare Tory MPs

New Conservatives have long feared they could be punished for Brexit

Were last night’s swing replicated on a national level, the Tories’ majority woud be wiped out…marginal MPs will still endure sleepless nights. If Goldsmith can squander a majority of 23,015, they will ask, what chance for us? Bath, Cheltenham, Kingston and Surbiton, and Twickenham are in the Lib Dems’ sights…

Even before Theresa May became Prime Minister, new MPs pleaded with her not to go to the country for fear of a Lib Dem revival. Their warnings have been vindicated. An early general election, which May has long inclined against, is now even less likely.

Since May became PM, much of the political pressure on her has been for a “hard Brexit”. But Richmond gives supporters of a “soft” exit (or none at all) a rallying point. For the first time, the principle of blocking Brexit has been endorsed at the ballot box. Marginal Tories risk being caught on the wrong side of their constituents.

Though the Conservatives have the most to fear from the result, it will also deepen Labour anxieties (it won just 3.7 per cent in Richmond). If Brexit becomes the new dividing line in British politics, the party risks a three-way squeeze between the Lib Dems, Ukip and the Tories. As Labour learned to its cost in Scotland, referendums can have painful afterlives.



I don’t agree that one by-election in an area which went 70% in favour of Remain is a sign of a shift of such a magnitude that you describe. Also, what about all the Labour and other MPs who come from constituencies which voted for leaving the EU in the majority? If these MPs go against how the majority of their constituents voted in regards to Britain getting out of the EU, they could be in big trouble.

Zac Goldsmith didn’t run as part of the Conservative party and he was a Conservative when he was re-elected. He ran as an Independent. Presumably he didn’t have the party resources behind him because of his new Independent status and also he may have been negatively impacted because registered Conservatives didn’t bother to vote for him because of him changing to becoming an Independent.


I’m not a Brit and have no expertise in British politics, but this is what I see as well. An overwhelmingly anti-Brexit candidate wins in an overwhelmingly anti-Brexit district is weak evidence of a sea change. It may well be, but I just don’t see how you can draw that conclusion based on this one election. I’m more inclined to see it as wishful thinking on the part of the anti-Brexit supporters.:shrug:


I’m glad you agree with my comment…


The one certainty of the Brexit referendum is that it deep division is our future.


But…that’s the point I’m making :shrug:

On both the Pro-EU and Brexit sides of the spectrum, the main Labour and Tory parties are under attack, such that British politics is re-aligning in terms of voters’ beliefs regarding the EU. This by-election upset is the first indicator of this sea-change in the aftermath of the referendum.

Zac Goldsmith didn’t run as part of the Conservative party and he was a Conservative when he was re-elected. He ran as an Independent. Presumably he didn’t have the party resources behind him because of his new Independent status and also he may have been negatively impacted because registered Conservatives didn’t bother to vote for him because of him changing to becoming an Independent.

His change to Independence was a mere token. The Conservatives never fielded a candidate against him because they still saw him as their man and didn’t want to split his vote. UKIP backed him too.

He merely went under Independent colours for this by-election because he promised his constituents when elected in 2015 to unilaterally oppose Heathrow expansion and his government and party decided to vote in favour of it.

He had the local Tory party onside and the overt but coded endorsement of the Tory government, as can be seen from their decision not to field another candidate and their aghast official response to him losing. Just read the statement issued by the government. They are mortified.

The voters saw through the phony Independency gambit.


Intriguing possibility, although coming from the Lib Dem leader of course…

**Richmond Park byelection: Tory Brexit voters switched to us, say Lib Dems

The Liberal Democrats secured a stunning byelection victory to unseat Zac Goldsmith by convincing up to a third of leave-supporting Tory voters to switch to the party, Tim Farron has claimed, adding that the outcome could change the direction of British politics.

The Lib Dems overturned a 23,000 majority on Thursday to remove the former Conservative MP in a vote that became a de facto plebiscite on the government’s Brexit plans.

Sarah Olney, the winning candidate, took just under 50% of the entire vote to record a majority of 1,872. Large numbers of local Labour voters backed her, with the Labour candidate, Christian Wolmar, losing his deposit.

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